How to Contest a Will

Helen Hall
Associate Solicitor, Dispute Resolution

Do you believe you’ve been unfairly excluded from a person’s Will?

What happens next depends on your relationship with the deceased, as well as the reasons why you might not have been mentioned in their Will. After all, a person can leave their Estate (everything owned at the time of death) to whoever they want. So in this article, we outline exactly what you need to know if you're thinking of contesting a Will in England or Wales.

The first thing to be aware of is that there’s no automatic or legal right for relatives, even a spouse, partner or children, to inherit a certain share of an Estate where a Will has been made.

The position is different if there’s no Will - known as Intestacy - when the law sets out how the deceased’s Estate will be divided among the next of kin.

So if you’ve been left out of a Will, the law will intervene in some cases for certain categories of relatives or dependants and vary the Will to allow for reasonable financial provision to be made for them from the Estate.

For free initial legal advice, call our Contentious Probate Solicitors. Ask if we can deal with your case on a No Win, No Fee basis.

Call us on 0808 239 9426 or request a callback

How to Contest a Will

The nature of your relationship with the deceased will be a key consideration. However, the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 sets out other factors that will also be taken into account.

For instance, is the Will or the conduct of the deceased towards the person being left out of the Will fair or reasonable? Each case will depend on its specific facts, and in particular the size of the Estate and the needs and expectations of the person claiming and other beneficiaries (this includes charity beneficiaries).

The Courts in England and Wales are always likely to make provision for spouses, partners and young children if they have been excluded. However, adult children and even those where the deceased has provided reasons for leaving them out of the Will have been successful in making claims under the Inheritance Act.

Each case of contesting a Will is different and will depend upon its facts, so you’ll need to seek legal advice on your particular circumstances before proceeding further.

Other Ways to Contest a Will

If you have other concerns as to how and when the Will was made and why you were left out, there are other ways to contest a Will. For instance, you may have concerns over:

      • Whether the deceased had mental capacity, or
      • Was subject to undue influence, or
      • Whether the Will has been executed correctly.

It may therefore be possible to challenge the Will and have it revoked or declared invalid. Again, each type of claim will depend upon its facts and in all cases, you’ll need to seek legal advice on your particular circumstances.

Finally, you may have been left out of a Will because there’s been an error by the person who drafted it. If this was a Solicitor or Will Writer, then you may be entitled to make a professional negligence claim against them.

It isn’t always necessary to pursue a contested Will claim by bringing Court proceedings, in many cases they can be resolved without going to Court by negotiation or mediation.

How Much Does it Cost to Contest a Will?

Contesting a Will can be long and expensive process, so we offer a Fixed Fee Assessment Service. A Contentious Probate Solicitor will make enquiries, assess all the information and material available, and advise you on the expected outcome.

See Contesting a Will Assessment Service.

For free initial case assessment call our Contentious Probate Solicitors

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