How Soon Can I Contest a Will?
You can contest a Will as soon as you’d like if you’ve got grounds for a claim. In fact, it’s usually best it’s best to start contesting a Will as soon as possible and ideally before anyone has applied for the Grant of Probate.
You can bring a claim after Probate, but you may find it a little trickier to gather evidence to support your claim.
If you’d like free initial legal advice about contesting a Will, our Contentious Probate Lawyers can help you. We will always handle your case sensitively and will tailor our expert advice to your needs.
Get in touch with our Contentious Probate Lawyers today.
There are generally strict time limits in place for contesting a Will in England and Wales, and they vary depending on the type of claim you’re making.
Grounds for Contesting a Will
Inheritance Act Claim
You can make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 if you believe you’ve not been reasonably provided for financially in a Will, and you have exactly 6 months from the date of Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration to do so.
This is a strict time limit and the Probate Registry (Court) will rarely make allowances for claims made after 6 months. So it’s important to start the process as soon as you can.
Clerical errors can and do happen and if your loved one’s intentions are unclear in their Will, you might want to contest it. If you’re contesting because of a clerical error, you’ll again have 6 months from the date of the Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration to do so.
Claim against an Estate
If you’re a beneficiary and you think you should have a share of someone’s Estate, you have 12 years from the date of their death to make a claim. Again, it’s good to start the process early if you can.
Testamentary Capacity Claim
Testamentary Capacity refers to someone’s mental capacity at the time that they made their Will.
If you believe that the deceased person was unduly influenced or coerced into making or changing their Will, then you might be able to contest it. There’s no time limit for this, but as with any claim, your claim is more likely to be successful the earlier you start it.
If a Will is invalid for any reason e.g. because it doesn’t meet the specific legal requirements or you think it has been forged, then there is no time limit for contesting the Will. But like the other examples we have listed above, your evidence and case may not be as strong if there’s a delay to your claim.
How Do I Contest a Will?
If the Executors of the Will haven’t yet applied for Probate, you can stop the Probate application by entering something called a caveat. This is a legal notice issued to the Probate Registry telling them that you wish to block a Grant of Probate.
A caveat lasts for 6 months and prevents any Grant of Probate from being issued, and the Estate from being distributed.
The purpose of this caveat period is to give you the chance to get legal guidance and begin your investigation into the validity of the Will.
You can renew the caveat after 6 months if you need more time.
If the Executors disagree with your decision to block the Grant of Probate, they can issue a ‘warning’ through the Probate Registry and you’ll be served a copy. You’ll then need to decide whether you want to continue with the caveat or withdraw.
Sometimes the Court may decide to go ahead and remove the caveat if the Executors request it and the Court believes it’s in the Estate’s best interest.
How Simpson Millar Can Help You
Most Will challenges can be resolved outside of Court, but it’s best to get legal advice early on so you can build the strongest case.
Our Contentious Probate Lawyers offer free initial advice and a full Contesting a Will Assessment Service where we’ll look at your case in depth and let you know if you’ve got a strong chance of successfully contesting a Will.
We understand this may be an emotional time for you, so we will do everything we can to help you with your claim in this tough time. Get in touch today to see how we can help you.
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