If you need help contesting a will, our expert solicitors are on board to answer any queries and provide you with the information you require. Whether you have been unfairly left out of a will, or are a beneficiary or trustee, we can provide support and advice.

We offer a range of funding options, such as “no win, no fee”, and we will do everything we can to tailor our funding options to your individual circumstances.

JMW’s team of specialist contest a will solicitors specialises within this field and has many years of experience providing our clients with expert legal advice regarding contesting wills. We are here to make the entire process run as smoothly and stress-free as possible for you during this difficult time. 

If you are in need of support from a professional, understanding solicitor to assist with contesting a will, contact our dedicated team today by calling 0345 872 6666, or fill in our online enquiry form to request a call back. 

Why Should I Seek Legal Advice When Contesting a Will?

When a person creates a will, they set out how their estate (property, possessions and revenue) is to be distributed upon their death. It also highlights who is to be responsible for carrying out that process. When concerns arise regarding the circumstances in which a will was created, contesting a will may then become necessary.

Our solicitors can provide advice when there are concerns surrounding:

  • The deceased’s mental capacity to make a will
  • Suspicion of undue influence being put upon the deceased by someone else
  • Concerns that the deceased lacked knowledge of and/or approval of the will
  • Evidence that the will has been forged or is fraudulent
  • The execution of the will

If you have been left out of a will, our specialist solicitors can also advise in relation to a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 for reasonable provision.

Contesting a will is a specialist area of law, and it is important you seek legal advice from a solicitor experienced in this area. At JMW, we have one of the largest dedicated teams of contesting a will solicitors, and we will be able to help you.

If you require legal assistance to dispute the validity of a will of someone who has passed away, be sure to seek specialist advice from one of our contentious probate solicitors who has experience of working in this area. Contact us today to speak to one of our experts who can deal with your case and help produce quick results to avoid any delays around the distribution of the estate.

How JMW Can Help

Our contentious probate team is one of the largest teams made up of expert solicitors who are experienced at bringing and defending claims on behalf of individuals, families, and professionals.

JMW Solicitors has years of experience in this field, and our highly respected team is often asked to give seminars on legal matters regarding wills, trusts and estate planning. We have also been regularly rated in the prestigious Chambers and Legal 500 guides as leaders in this field.

Chambers 2019 noted that we are equally adept in dealing with “both small everyday matters or complex transactions involving many legal areas”, and that “there is always an expert on hand to guide clients, whatever the issue”.

For more information, check out our Step-by-Step Guide to Contesting a Will:

A Step-By-Step Guide To Contesting a Will

A step-by-step guide to contesting a will from JMW

What are the Grounds to Contest A Will?

There are a number of grounds to contest a will, which includes:  

  • Claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975

Certain classes of people are eligible to bring a claim under the Inheritance Act for reasonable financial provision. This includes spouses and former spouses, children, people treated as children, cohabitees and people who were financially dependent on the deceased.

  • Lack of testamentary capacity

For a will to be valid, the person who creates the will, known as the testator, needs to be of “sound mind, memory and understanding” when making the will. The legal test is set out in the case of Banks v Goodfellow (1870) that states for a will to be valid, the testator must:

  • Understand the nature and effect of making a will;
  • Understand the extent of the property of which they are disposing;
  • Be able to comprehend and appreciate the claims to which they ought to give effect; and
  • Have no disorder of the mind that perverts their sense of right or prevents the exercise of their natural faculties in disposing of their property by will.  

When contesting a will on the basis of lack of mental capacity, we will often write to the solicitors who drafted the will to get further information on the circumstances surrounding the drafting of the will, and obtain medical records.

  • Lack of due execution

There are strict requirements set out in section 9 of the Wills Act 1837 that provides the following criteria in relation to the validity of a will:

  • It is in writing, and signed by the testator, or by some other person in their presence and by their directions;
  • It appears that the testator intended by their signature to give effect to their will;
  • The signature is made or acknowledged by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the time; and
  • Each witness either attests or signs the will or acknowledges his signature in the presence of the testator.

If a will is not validly executed, it is invalid.

  • Fraud or forgery

You can contest a will if you believe that it has been created fraudulently or forged. A fraud will can also occur if the testator instructs someone else to finalise the terms of their will, then that person submits false terms to benefit themselves. Also, if a signature has been forged, the will can be overturned. 

  • Undue influence

You can contest the validity of a will if there is evidence suggesting that testaotr was coerced into making makin the will. However, strong supporting evidence would need to be provided for this. 

  • Lack of knowledge and approval

If the testator did not know or approve the contents of their will (despite being executed properly) then the will is invalid. 

  • Poisoning of the mind

A will can also be contested if it can be proven that the testator’s mind was poisoned by false statements being made about someone who could have benefitted from the will otherwise and those statements were intended to have said person removed from the will.

Call our specialist team now on 0345 872 6666, or fill in our online enquiry form for a free, no obligation discussion about how we can help.

Our Will Disputes Team

Alison Parry
Partner
Will and Trust Disputes
Ben Wilson
Partner
Will and Trust Disputes
Ian Johnston
Senior Associate Solicitor
Will and Trust Disputes
Claire Brierley
Associate Solicitor
Will and Trust Disputes
Ameliah McLaren-Parker
Solicitor
Wills and Trust Disputes

FAQs About Contesting Validity of Wills

How much does it cost to contest a will?

The cost to contest a will can vary depending on the severity and complexity of the issue, and whether or not you need to go to court. 

If the dispute needs to be resolved in court, a judge will decide how these costs are to be paid, and usually, the loser pays the winner’s costs. 

We are able to work with you towards a number of funding arrangements, including “no win, no fee” and deferred fees. We will do all we can to ensure you have the right funding in place to pursue your matter.

Is there a register for wills I can search?

Currently, there’s no compulsory national register for wills. However, some law firms do sign up to voluntary databases, so wills can be traced through this. 

When a person passes away and you think that a Grant of Representation has been applied for, you can search the government’s Find a Will or Probate Document database and check this. This way, you can obtain a copy of the Grant of Representation and a will for the deceased if available. 

Who can contest a will?

A will can be contested by:

  • A spouse, former spouse, child, person treated as a child, a person financially dependent on the deceased and, in some cases, cohabitees can contest a will under the Inheritance Act.
  • A beneficiary under an earlier will (written before this one) or under the intestacy rules
  • Anyone who was made a promise by the deceased and relied on the fulfilment of it to their detriment

Will I need to go to court to contest a will?

If the issue cannot be resolved by negotiation (including mediation), then the only way to resolve a matter is through the court process. However, the vast majority of claims relating to contesting a will are resolved before a final hearing is needed, which is why it’s advised to contact a solicitor to help resolve the problem as soon as possible. 

Will I be liable for costs?

Typically, if the matter goes to trial, the unsuccessful party will be ordered to pay the winning party’s costs. 

A common misconception is that the costs of resolving an inheritance claim will automatically be deducted from the estate, but this is rare and the usual rule of “loser pays the winner’s costs” generally applies.

If both parties decide to settle the dispute between themselves, they can instead agree on who should settle the debt. 

Is there a time limit for contesting a will?

Yes. There is a time limit of six months from the date of the Grant of Probate to bring a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975 for reasonable financial provision.

There is no time limit to contest a will on the grounds of lack of mental capacity, lack of knowledge and approval of the will, fraud and forgery and lack of proper execution. However, claims should always be brought quickly, and a claim may be struck out if there has been an unreasonable delay in bringing a claim.

Because a will doesn’t take effect until the testator has died, it’s impossible to claim against a will whilst the person is still alive, even if concerns about the document have been raised before then. 

Can a will be challenged after probate?

Yes. However, as set out above, claims under the Inheritance Act 1975 must be brought within six months of the date of the Grant of Probate and all other claims should be brought as soon as possible.

It’s important to note that challenging the validity of a will after the assets of the estate have already begun to be distributed can be a difficult challenge. It is advised to seek legal advice as soon as possible to determine the best course of action.

Talk to Us

To speak to a member of our team who can provide expert legal guidance in relation to contesting the validity of a will, get in touch with us today. You can contact us by calling 0345 872 6666, or request a callback by filling in our online enquiry form.

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