How do you contest a Will?
Often relatives are left feeling hurt or wrong done by
when the contents of a Will are revealed. It is then too late of course to persuade the person who made the Will
to think through the consequences of the Will and change their mind.
However, there are only a limited number of ways to challenge
the provisions in a Will. It is not enough to say that you are the next of kin
to have an automatic right to an inheritance.
But, if you are financially dependent
on the deceased – usually because you have been living under the deceased’s roof – and if the deceased has failed to adequately provide for you
in their Will then you can apply to the Court
for the division of the inheritance to be changed.
The Court does not do this lightly so there has to be long term and significant financial dependence
before an application should be made. For example, a cohabitee of many years who is not mentioned in his or her partner’s Will could ask for a Court order that they be allowed to remain living in their partner’s house.
More unusual ways to contest a Will are if it can be shown without a doubt that the deceased did not know what they were signing
, that they lacked capacity or that their signature was forged
. These types of challenges are very rare and are usually restricted to home made Wills
If the deceased had visited a solicitor
to make their Will it is incredibly difficult to show the deceased lacked capacity.
Another basis for challenging a Will is if the deceased was under duress
when making the Will. The test for duress or undue pressure is very high. There has to be more than just influencing or manipulating
someone into making a Will. It has to be shown that the deceased was put under extreme pressure
, usually due to threats to their physical safety. It is all the harder to prove this when the main witness – the deceased themselves – is not available to give evidence.
So, whilst contesting a Will is not impossible it is certainly unusual and should only be embarked upon with advice
and assistance from a solicitor