Unfortunately, it’s impossible to stop someone contesting a Will and none of us can predict what’s going to happen after we die. But there are some steps you can take when making your Will to make it less likely to be challenged in the future.
When a Will is challenged, it’s usually because a disappointed person feels that the Will or Intestacy Provisions do not make a financial provision for them, or because the Will isn’t legally valid for one of 5 reasons.
Our Contentious Probate Solicitors can help you if you’re looking to challenge a Will or make an Inheritance Act Claim. Get in touch for a free initial case assessment today.
Here are some things to consider to reduce the risk of your Will being contested:
Is your Will Legally Valid?
To meet the legal requirements, you must:
- Be aged 18 or older
- Have testamentary capacity e.g. be of sound mind
- Make it in writing e.g. handwritten or typed
- Make it by choice and not through coercion
- Sign it in front of two witnesses (both aged 18 or over)
- Witness it being signed by the two witnesses
Many people can accidentally miss one or more of the above requirements without realising, especially if they’re making a DIY Will, rather than instructing a specialist Wills Solicitor.
After you die, if someone believes that your Will is invalid because it wasn’t drafted or witnessed correctly, or because you lacked testamentary capacity or were put under undue influence, they could have grounds to challenge your Will.
Have you Provided for Everyone you Need to?
The Inheritance Act sets out who can make a claim against an Estate if they feel that reasonable provision has not been made for them. Only certain people can make a claim under the Act.
- A husband, wife or civil partner
- A former husband, wife or civil partner
- Anyone living with you as if they are your husband, wife or civil partner (for at least two years before you die)
- A biological or adopted child
- A child that lives with you and who you treat as your own
- Anyone you are wholly or partly maintaining
If any of the above can demonstrate that you’ve not reasonably provided for them in your Will, then they could very well make an Inheritance Act Claim.
If you’re wanting to exclude someone for a specific reason, you should speak with one of our experts for advice.
Have you Recorded your Wishes?
A detailed record should be kept with your Will explaining the reasons for the exclusions and also the reasons why your Will has been drafted in the way it has been.
Our wishes can change over time, so make sure your current Will is up to date and accurately reflects your wishes.
Is your Will Stored in a Safe Place?
It’s surprisingly common how often a Will ends up misplaced, making family members believe that no Will was left behind. Make sure you keep your Will in a safe place and tell your family where it’s being stored so they can find it easily when you die.
You can also register your Will online through Certainty – the National Will Register. It costs £30 and only takes a couple of minutes to do. Your friends and family will then be able to easily find out where your Will is located after you die.
If you’ve made your Will with a Solicitor, you can choose to leave it in their safekeeping.
Should you get Proof of Testamentary Capacity?
If someone has testamentary capacity, it means they have the mental and legal capacity to understand the implications of making or changing their Will. It’s one of the most common reasons we see for contesting a Will.
Whilst a loss of capacity can happen gradually, it can sometimes happen instantly e.g. if you end up in an accident that leads to a serious brain injury.
If you or your family already suspect that you’re losing mental capacity, you might want to consider getting a diagnosis from your GP to confirm that you had testamentary capacity at the time of making your Will.
Have you used a Specialist Wills Solicitor?
The best way to guarantee that your Will is legally valid and clear is to instruct a specialist Wills Solicitor, who can help you prepare your Will to a professional standard, without any errors. Get in touch with our Wills and Trusts team if you’d like help with making your Will.
If you’re already looking to contest a Will or make an Inheritance Act Claim, please contact our Contentious Probate Solicitors for more information.
For free initial case assessment call our Contentious Probate Solicitors
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