Contesting a Will is sometimes unavoidable and disputes between family members or executors over Wills can be emotional and difficult to resolve. We always aim to help you deal with these situations sensitively and impartially, to ensure problems are ironed out with minimum cost and anxiety. We can advise you across the whole range of estate and inheritance disputes in the following areas:
- Will disputes.
- Inheritance Act Claims.
- Probate and estate disputes.
- Trust disputes.
- Property and asset claims.
- Proprietary estoppel, resulting and constructive trust claims.
- Will, trust and estate professional negligence claims.
Contesting a Will and Inheritance Disputes
The most common disputes arising following a death are that the Will is invalid or that the Will (or rules of intestacy where a Will has not been made) fails to make reasonable financial provision for the applicant.
The first type of claim contests the validity of the Will. If that claim succeeds, then the deceased person’s estate will pass either in accordance with a previous Will or in accordance with the rules of intestacy. The second is a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.
Claims a Will is invalid
There are several grounds in which you can challenge the validity of a Will:
- Testamentary capacity (the deceased lacked the necessary mental capacity to make a Will).
- Undue influence (pressure amounting to coercion) was put on a person to make or change a Will.
- Lack of knowledge and approval of the Will (i.e. not knowing the meaning or content of the Will).
- Lack of due execution (a failure to meet the necessary formalities i.e. for the Will to be in writing, signed and witnessed correctly).
- Fraud or forgery (i.e. faking a signature or making unauthorised changes to a Will).
- Rectification and construction (i.e. if a Will is ambiguous, unclear or does not carry out a person’s intentions or wishes).
- Fraudulent calumny (false representations made to the Will maker against another person which leads to exclusion from a Will).
Under the Inheritance (Provision for family and dependents) Act 1975 certain categories of people can apply to the for financial provision from the deceased person’s estate if they are:
- a spouse or civil partner of the deceased (or former spouses or civil partners who have not remarried or entered into another civil partnership);
- an unmarried partner of the deceased who lived with them;
- a child of the deceased (including legally adopted children);
- a person who the deceased treated as a child; or
- a person who was financially dependent on the deceased.
Our experience enables us to make an early evaluation of the merits of your claim and the evidence required to successfully pursue a claim to trial if necessary. Visit Inheritance Act claims section for further information.
How much does it cost to contest a Will?
This can vary from case to case and depends on whether early terms of agreement can be reached. We seek to make an early assessment of the merits of your case and look to find a way to fund your case in a way that works for you.
I have not seen my relative’s Will and am not sure if I am included in it. What can I do?
Unless a Will is admitted to Probate the only people able to view the Will are the executors. Once it is admitted to Probate then it becomes a public document and can be viewed. If you believe the circumstances in which a Will has been prepared are suspicious urgent steps should be taken to prevent Probate being granted so that an investigation can be carried out into the validity of the Will.
If you believe a Will is invalid or that you qualify to bring an inheritance claim you should seek advice urgently.
How to contest a Will
We have acted in many cases disputing the validity of Wills and claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.
If you would like to speak with on of our experts about contentious Probate call Jim McGarrity on 01908 689331 or Dagmara Kulzczykowska on 01908 689341, or simply complete the contact us form and we will be in touch.
What our clients say:
“Dagmara took all the stress and strain of sorting wills and probate at what was a difficult time. We couldn’t have done it without her. Excellent”. Clare Dragisic
For more information about how we can help, you can read testimonials from our Private Client Services clients.
Inheritance, Wills & Trust Disputes Team
Dagmara Kulczykowska Partner
Private Client Services 01908 689341Dagmara is Head of the Department and has many years of experience in all aspects of private client work. Dagmara’s strengths are working with families on very sensitive and emotive matters, providing them with specialist legal advice. She ensures clients are supported but also advised clearly and comprehensively on the legal issue(s) at hand so that they can make an informed decision.