On what grounds can wills be contested?

    On what grounds can wills be contested?

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    Grounds for contesting a will

    The creation of a will is often regarded as a final expression of someone’s wishes regarding the distribution of their assets after death. However, despite the intention for wills to provide clarity and closure, disputes surrounding their validity, or the deceased intentions, can arise, leading to the process of contesting a will.

    Understanding the grounds on which wills can be contested is crucial for navigating the complexities of inheritance law and ensuring that the final wishes of the deceased are honoured with fairness and integrity. This article delves into the various legal grounds upon which individuals may challenge the validity of a will, shedding light on the intricate balance between testamentary freedom and the protection of legal rights.

    What are the grounds for contesting a will?

    A will is generally contested on one of two grounds, namely the will itself is invalid, or it fails to make reasonable financial provision for a family member or someone who was financially dependent in some way on the deceased.

    In legal terms, the grounds for contesting a will include the following:

    • Lack of testamentary capacity

    The law says that at the time of drawing up a will, the person must be of sound mind, memory, and understanding. This means that they must understand what they are doing and the effects those actions will have, understand the full extent of what they are distributing, be able to appreciate the effects of including/excluding certain people, and not have an “disorder of the mind”.

    • Undue influence or coercion

    If someone forces or coerces an individual into changing their will for the coercers benefit, this is called undue influence. In reality, it can be extremely difficult to prove, but physical violence, giving inaccurate information, or verbal bullying, can all indicate pressure to make changes.

    • Complies with section 9 of the Wills Act 1837

    To be considered valid, a will must comply with section 9 of the Wills Act 1837. This means it must be in writing and signed by the person making the will; they must also have intended to create a valid will. It must be signed and two people who are not beneficiaries must witness the signature.

    • Forgery and fraud

    If either the entire will or the signature of the person who made the will is forged, or the content is fraudulent, the will is deemed to be invalid.

    • Lack of knowledge and approval

    If it can be demonstrated that the person making the will did not properly know or approve of the contents of the will, then it can be declared invalid by the court. The estate will then be dealt with under the terms of a previous will, if one exists, or under the rules of intestacy.

    The first thing to do when considering contesting a will is to establish whether or not the will has been properly executed (signed and witnessed) in order to make it valid. If not, the will can be disputed on the grounds of its validity.

    Reasonable financial provision

    A will dispute often revolves around one party not receiving anything, or less than they expected, from a will. If this is the case, it may be possible to seek reasonable financial provision if you depended financially upon the deceased under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. The act also sets out who is entitled to make an inheritance dispute claim. Typically, this is spouses, civil partners, cohabitees of two years or more, children, and individuals who can show they were being supported financially by the person who has died.

    If you are facing contesting a will, have a potential will dispute, or an inheritance dispute, navigating the complexities of contentious probate can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to face it alone. Judkins solicitors can provide the legal expertise to protect your rights and ensure that the final wishes of your loved one are upheld with fairness and integrity.

    Don’t delay—reach out to our experienced lawyers specialising in contentious probate today. Your future and the legacy of your family deserve the attention and care of dedicated legal professionals. Contact us here for more information and advice.



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