Can I Contest a Will after Probate Has Been Granted?

Author:
John Lambe
Contentious Probate Solicitor
Date:
15/07/2020

Yes you can but it can be a bit complicated. And, depending on the nature of your claim, there may be certain time limits in England or Wales.

Ideally, if you have a case, you’ll want to contest the Will before Probate is granted. There are two different ways that Probate can be granted:

  • Grant of Probate – if the deceased person left a valid Will
  • Grant of Representation – if the deceased person did not leave a valid Will

To make your case as strong as possible, it’s important to establish the facts and find out exactly what the Will says. A Contentious Probate Solicitor can go through your options with you, so it’s best to speak to one as early as possible.

For free initial legal advice, get in touch with our Contentious Probate Solicitors. We may be able to deal with your case on a No Win, No Fee basis – ask us for details.

Call us on 08002605010 or request a callback and we will help you.

Contesting a Will

Everyone’s circumstances will be different, but some common reasons people come to us when contesting a Will usually include:

  • They were left out of the Will completely
  • They received less than they expected
  • They were promised a property or an asset in the Will which was never honoured

There are different claims you can make depending on your circumstances. For example, if you were left out of the Will completely, you can make a claim to have the Will set aside. Or, you might be looking to be included in the provision of any assets or money being distributed.

Finally, if anything was promised to you in a gift, then you can put in a claim to try and have that promise enforced. Again, this can be a complex area of law, so you should get the advice of a specialist Contentious Probate Solicitor to help you with this.

When There is No Will

If there isn’t a valid Will in place, then inheritance laws known as the Rules of Intestacy will determine how the deceased’s Estate is distributed. This requires someone to apply for Grant of Representation in order to act as Executor, so it’s still possible for you to make a claim if you feel you have grounds to.  

Should I Contest a Will Before or after Probate?

It’s best to contest a Will before Probate has been granted simply because the administration of the Will and distribution of assets has not yet properly begun.

If you feel strongly that the Will is invalid, then you can lodge something called a ‘caveat’ with the Probate Registry (Court). This prevents anyone from then obtaining a Grant of Probate for the deceased’s Estate and carrying out their duties as Executor. Usually, a caveat will be in place for six months.

This might be useful if you’re dealing with an Executor who you suspect is trying to keep you from gaining from the Will. Sadly, this does happen and so this highlights why it’s better to contest the Will before Probate is granted.

What You Need to Do

If you feel you need to contest a Will after Probate has been granted, there are some essential steps you need to take to help you make a claim:

  1. Gather key documents – Get yourself a copy of the Will. If the Executor is withholding this, then speak with our Contentious Probate Solicitors who can help you get a copy of the Will. A copy of the Grant of Probate will also help with your claim, giving you more information about when probate was granted and the value of the Estate.
  2. Consider your relationship to the deceased person – Not everyone can challenge a Will, even if the person was a close friend to you. You can only challenge a Will if you’re a family member, a dependant, a beneficiary, a creditor or someone who was promised something in the Will.

  3. Consider your grounds for contesting the Will – Do you have a legal basis for a claim? Your Contentious Probate Solicitor can discuss this with you, setting out the grounds for your claim if you have any. This could be because the Will is invalid, it was forged, or you’re making an Inheritance Act claim.
  4. Consider your time limits – There are certain time limits in place depending on the nature of your claim. This is governed by the Limitation Act 1980, and is actually a very complex area of law. One of our Contentious Probate Solicitors will be more than happy to explain this to you if you’re unsure. Below, we explain what these time limits are, and also other risks involved depending on the nature of your claim.

  5. Is Going to Court an Option? – Ideally you will want to negotiate outside of Court if possible, not just because of cost but because of time as well. Your case may well be dismissed if the Judge feels you’re delaying the Probate process for any malicious reason. One of our Solicitors can work with you to help make your case as strong as possible.

Time Limits for Probate Claims

Claims for Financial Provision

You must make a claim within six months of Grant of Probate being issued. Claims of this type are usually made under the Inheritance Act 1975.

Claims against Validity of the Will

If you have a claim against the Will’s validity then there’s no set time limit in place. You might be bringing about a claim for any number of reasons, such as whether the deceased person was of sound mind in which to make a Will in the first place.

Claims against Fraud or Forgery

You can also make a claim if you can prove that a Will has been signed with a forged signature, or the deceased was put under undue influence when writing it. If this is the case, then there are no time limits in place to restrict you from making a claim of this type.

How Simpson Millar Can Help You

Contesting a Will doesn’t always mean you have to go to Court, as you may be able to come to a resolution through careful mediation. Our Contentious Probate Solicitors understand the sensitivity and emotions involved in contesting a Will doesn’t, so we always take a very understanding approach.

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