Challenging a Will
If you think that you have been left out of a will or deprived of an iheritance it is important that you take advice quickly. At SSB Law we are experts at at advising people on challenges to wills and we provide advice and assistance to customers throughout the country. If you want to ask whether you can contest a will contact us on 0800433225 during normal working hours and take advantage of our Free First Advice. Or, should you not want to call or are looking at this outside of office hours why not use the "Have A Question?" form below and we will respond to you quickly with the answer to whether we can help you. And don't worry - we're not goint to harrass you or bombard you with emails and calls. We're here to help. Our reviews below show how our clients appreciate our no nonesense approach. If we do think that you have a case we will be happy to discuss with you how we can assist you on a No Win No Fee basis.
You might contest a will, challenge a probate decision or dispute an estate because:
(drop down the menus to read more).
You don’t think the will is valid
There are several ways in which the validity of a will can be challenged. Lack of mental capacity – the deceased did not understand the extent of his estate or the significance of the will. In order for a will to be valid the person making the will must be fully aware of what he is doing and also aware of claims which may be brought against his estate as a result of the will. Lack of knowledge or approval – the deceased was not aware of or in agreement with the content of the will. An example of this would be if instructions for a will were given by another person and the deceased signed the will without having read or approved it. Undue influence – the deceased entered into a will which he would not have otherwise entered into as a result of pressure or influence from another person. The influence from another person has to be more than simple persuasion or a suggestion that the will is written in a certain way. Fraud or forgery – the will was tampered with or signed by someone other than the deceased. This is a very serious allegation and could amount to a criminal matter if a will has been forged. If a will is found to be invalid the estate will pass in accordance with any previous will. If no previous will can be found the estate will pass in accordance with the intestacy rules.
You don’t think you have been provided for sufficiently by the Will or the Intestacy Rules
There is a general rule that a person is free to leave his estate to whoever he chooses and there is no duty on a deceased to leave anything to family or partners. Under limited circumstances however a spouse, partner, child or someone who was financially dependent on the deceased may make a claim against the estate if they have not been left with reasonable financial provision. A Court will consider the financial circumstances of the deceased and anyone making a claim for financial provision to assess whether what has been left to them could be considered as reasonable.
You don’t think the executors seem to be administering the estate properly
There are rules relating to how executors and trustees of an estate act and administer the estate. Beneficiaries may have a claim against the executors if they act in breach of these rules, for example, executors who are making a personal profit from the estate or who are failing to deal with the proceeds of the estate in accordance with the will. A court can order that the executors perform their duties correctly or are replaced.
You were promised something by the deceased but it is not within the Will
Generally despite whatever the deceased has said in his lifetime, he is free to leave whatever he wants to whoever he wants in his will. There are limited circumstances however when it may be possible to bring a claim against the estate for the promise to be honoured if that promise is not reflected by the will. If the deceased made a promise to you and you have suffered in some way because you relied on that promise, you may have a claim against the estate.
How can we help?
We have a specialist contentious probate team who firmly believe that contesting a will and challenging estate decisions falls between the two common areas of litigation and private client services. It is an area in which few firms are able to offer a dedicated service provided by specialist solicitors.
Types of Claims
Examples of the sorts of cases we have helped with include;
- a claim against the validity of a will entered into by a gentleman with dementia who had changed his will to favour family members who had only recently become involved in his care;
- a proprietary estoppels claim relating to farming land by a son who had been promised the farm by his father, lived and worked on the farm and then following his father’s death discovered that the will left the farm and farm house to his mother with whom he did not have a very good relationship;
- a claim for the removal of a trustee who was refusing to release a trust to the beneficiary when he became 18;
- a claim by a long term partner for reasonable financial provision following the deceased failing to change a will which was entered into before he met his partner in which he left everything to his daughter.
Why are more wills being challenged?
The number of claims against an estate is increasing each year and looks set to increase with changes within society. The makeup of families is changing with over 2 million people now choosing cohabitation over marriage and more people entering into second marriages or long term relationships.
Furthermore the use of homemade wills, either from DIY will templates, online will software or home will writing services means that an increasing number of people are not using solicitors to draft their wills. This can lead to errors relating to the drafting or execution of the will and does not provide the opportunity for the person entering into the will to be advised as to the implications of the will and potential claims against the estate. We can also check your will if you contact us.
A will, or lack of one, will impact on most people, whether directly or indirectly, at some point in time. Once you think you have something to discuss with a specialist you should take action as soon as you can as some claims need to be brought within 6 months of the grant of probate.