Contesting Wills and Inheritance

Contesting Wills and Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act Claims

Many people put off from thinking of the inevitable, let alone make any provisions for their death.  Often people believe that they have nothing to leave and that they can express their wishes to family and be certain that they will carry those wishes out. Some people simply refuse to think about dying and what happens to the family when they’ve gone.

But the sad reality of it is, that not only do we leave family and friends behind, but we also leave possessions, some of which can be valuable and that even if a Will is made, all may not be as it appears, and a family can be torn apart by the content of that Will. Relatives can be excluded, and written out with no reason, relatives may exist that are not known about and not included, and a Will may be so old that it hasn’t been updated to reflect changes within the family dynamics. 

Families can resent legacies being given to one person and all manner of rifts can be created with accusations over the validity of the Will and the circumstances surrounding the making of that Will leading to Wills being contested.

Wills can be challenged on four grounds:

  • Not being properly executed (ie signed and witnessed)
  • The Testator/Testatrix lacked capacity
  • Undue Influence (ie not being made freely)
  • Want of knowledge or approval (ie that the testator/testatrix did not understand what they were doing or its effect)

If none of these grounds apply and a party has been excluded from a Will, which has resulted in them suffering financially, or has been excluded as they were not known about at the time of the Will or even if they were included but the bequest made was not adequate then a claim against the Estate may be possible under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975. 

Strict time limits apply to these type of claims of 6 months from the date that the Will is proved (ie that a Grant of Probate or letters of Administration) have been issued.

Legal Advice for Contesting a Will

When someone dies without a Will, then they are deemed to have died intestate and as such there are rules about the distribution of the Estate. There may be circumstances where one  person believes that they have a right to the Estate in preference to someone else, and  a claim under the Inheritance Act can still be brought. It is therefore  essential that the appropriate expert advice is obtained as soon as possible to enable your position to be considered fully and protected by possibly entering a caveat to prevent a Grant or Letters of Administration being granted.

There may be additional problems that arise in the progression of the administration of an Estate which justify the removal and substitution of Personal Representatives and Executors and we at Garratts can help in this.

Garratts specialist solicitors have the experience to advise you fully in what is often a very distressing time. Some of the issues we have dealt with are:

  • Contesting and Challenging a Will
  • Removal and appointment of Personal Representatives and Executors
  • Claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975
  • Entering Caveats and searches of the Probate Registry

If you want legal advice about contesting a will, contact us  on 0161 665 3502 to see what we can do for you or complete our online enquiry form.

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