I’ve Been Left Out of a Will - What are My Options?

Author:
Robert Godfrey
Partner, Head of Professional Negligence and Dispute Resolution
Date:
14/04/2021

Being left out of a Will can be very upsetting, especially if you were close with the person who died.

If you feel you’ve been left out of a Will when you should have been included, you have a couple of options for challenging the Will or Estate. But your next steps will depend on if you’re eligible to contest the Will, and your reason for wanting to challenge it.

Contesting a Will can get complicated and to stand a chance of being successful, you need to have a strong case and evidence to back up your claim.

We recommend getting legal advice from an experienced Contentious Probate Solicitor as soon as possible as there are strict time limits involved. Our Solicitors are experts in dealing with all kinds of Will disputes, and can advise you on your best course of action. Get in touch today to see how we can help you.

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

Options for Contesting a Will

Option 1 - Contest the Will

There are a few different grounds for contesting a Will. They are:

  • Lack of testamentary capacity - Someone’s mental and legal ability to fully understand what they were doing at the time of making their Will. For more information see Testamentary Capacity
  • Undue influence - When someone is pressured into making or changing a Will in terms they did not want
  • The Will does not meet the Will making formalitiesfor example, to be legally valid, a Will has to signed and witnessed in the presence of two witnesses
  • Fraud or forgery - A Will is invalid if a signature is found not to be that of the Testator (the person who made the Will)
  • Lack of understanding or approval - The person making the Will did not understand or approve of its contents

If the Will seems out of character, or the deceased person was vulnerable or ill when they made their Will, this might give you cause to believe they were pressured or unsure of what they were doing. You could contest the Will if you can prove that this caused you to be excluded from the Will.

But proving things like undue influence and testamentary capacity can be challenging. This is where the expertise of a Contentious Probate Solicitor comes into its own. We know exactly how strong evidence needs to be to make a successful claim on your behalf, and we can help you gather evidence from witnesses, medical experts and the person who helped draft the Will.

Option 2 - Make an Inheritance Act Claim

If you’ve been left out of a Will and have not been reasonably provided for, your best option might be an Inheritance Act Claim. But only certain people can make claim under the Inheritance Act.

In England and Wales, this includes:

  • A surviving husband, wife, civil partner or child
  • A former husband, wife or civil partner (who has not remarried)
  • Someone who lived with the person who died for 2 years as if they were their husband, wife or civil partner
  • Someone who was treated by the person who died as if they were their child
  • Anyone who was being maintained by the person who died

You’ll need to prove to the Court that reasonable financial provision has not been made for you to make a successful claim.

Option 3 - Enforcing a Promise

It’s possible to contest a Will if someone made a promise to you before they died but didn’t include it in their Will. This might be a gift, property, or a share of their Estate.

Usually, you’ll have to prove that this promise led you to expect that you would be entitled to what was promised, that you relied on it, and that you suffered detriment (harm) as a result of the promise not being honoured.

What Happens Next?

  1. Our Contentious Probate Solicitors can assess your case and let you know if we think you’ve got grounds to contest the Will or make an Inheritance Act claim.
  2. We’ll put forward your claim to the Solicitor handling your loved one’s Estate.
  3. We’ll try to reach an agreement with the other party through careful mediation.
  4. If an agreement can’t be reached, we can issue Court proceedings.

If you’ve got grounds to make a claim, we can walk you through the entire process and advise you where you need it.

For more information about Contesting a Will, get in touch with our expert Contentious Probate Solicitors to talk about your options.

For free initial case assessment call our Contentious Probate Solicitors

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