Common Reasons for Contesting a Will
After an individual passes away, legal disputes and disagreements frequently occur during the distribution of an estate. It is possible for these arguments between friends and close relatives to lead to disputing the Will. In order for the Will to be challenged, there are a number of ‘grounds’ for contesting a Will.
‘Grounds’ for Contesting a Will
Lack of Capacity
Legally, a Will can only be made by an individual who has the mental capacity to do so. In order for the Will to be valid, they need to be of ‘sound’ mind and fully understand what act they are performing – making a Will and the effect it will have. As well as this, they should also be able to clearly recognise the nature and value of their estate and the consequences of how it is divided up. With the rise of the number of dementia diagnoses, lack of capacity has become one of the most common reasons for contesting a Will.
Even though this ‘ground’ is harder to challenge, undue influence is a valuable reason for contesting a Will. This is when an individual who is in a position of trust puts pressure on the person writing the Will; this includes coercing them into actually making a Will, as well as the influence on the contents included in the Will. If the Will-maker wasn’t able to exercise their own judgement when creating the Will, if they were forced to include clauses that they wouldn’t have included if written on their own, this can be challenged.
If an individual who was financially maintained by the deceased believes that the Will does not make ‘adequate provision’ for them, they can contest it. These individuals can be a spouse, a former spouse that has not remarried, a co-habitant for at least two years, children, or any other eligible categories of claimants under the Inheritance Act 1975. This is because they are the most likely to benefit from the estate, so if they were left out of the Will altogether, not left as much as expected, or the deceased passed away without a Will, this can be contested within 6 months of the Grant of Probate being issued.
Failure to Comply
As a legal document, if there is evidence that certain conditions have not been complied with when a Will has been drawn up, this can be contested. The following requirements have to be met otherwise a Will is invalid:
- The Will must be in writing and the person making the Will must sign it or be present when they direct someone else to sign it for them.
- This signature must be witnessed by two people present at the same time.
- These witnesses must meet the specific criteria.
- Each witness must sign the Will or acknowledge the signature in the presence of the Will-maker; this doesn’t necessarily have to be in the presence of any other witness.
If the Will was not drawn up correctly and there are issues with signatures, witnesses or terminology within the Will, these are ‘grounds’ for contesting a Will.
Finally, if any benefactor has doubts over the legitimacy of the Will or the signatures, it can be challenged. The Will can be declared as invalid if it has been created fraudulently or the Will-maker’s signature has been forged.
At Executor Solutions, we make sure that your Probate case is as stress-free as possible, especially if you’ve had to go through the process of contesting a Will. Contact us today so you can have peace of mind when it comes to sorting property probate.