Contested probate is on the increase, with the number of will disputes now at record levels. As specialist Contested Probate Solicitors we are able to use both our probate and litigation experience to help you with your case. We act regularly for Executors, Trustees, and disappointed family members in a variety of contested probate cases. A list of past and current cases we have acted on can be seen by clicking here.
How to challenge a will
Contested probate is a very complex area, with the number of legal challenges to wills strictly limited, however we find that the majority of will disputes often fall into one of the following areas :-
- • Undue influence and fraud wills, these types of cases arise when the testator (the person making the will ) is often pressurised to make or alter their will, while fraud wills can arise when signatures are altered or wills even destroyed.
- • Invalid wills. All Wills must comply with the Wills Act. This provides that the will must be in writing, signed, dated and witnessed by two independent witnesses, ( neither of whom can be a Beneficiary ) at the same time as the person making the will. If any of these rules are not complied with the will is invalid and fails.
- • Lack of Capacity to Make a Will. The person making the will must have understood the nature of actually making the will, the extent of the property which he/she was disposing of and the claims to which he/she ought to give effect to. These principals where established in a very old case called Banks –v- Goodfellow. Will disputes are common when the person making the will ( known as testator ) may have been suffering from Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.
- • Claims for financial maintenance. These types of claims can be made against the estate if it can be showen that the person making the claim was in someway financially dependent upon the Deceased before he or she died. The time limit to make a claim is very limited ( just 6 months from the date of the Grant of Probate ) while to claim you must fall into one of the categories of Claimant listed under the Inheritance Act.
Other common will disputes arise when the Executor has acted unreasonably, or when the Deceased has made very clear promises of an inheritance, only to then disinherit or cut someone close to them out of their will.
How to stop probate: Process of contesting a will
If you have been cut out of a will time is often of the essence in making a claim. As a result of this, it is always very important that you obtain a Copy Will as soon as possible. Sometimes the Executor may acted unreasonably and refuse to provide a copy of the will, if this is the case one way of pressurising the executor into providing a copy of the will is to issue what is known as a Caveat. This is a bit like an injunction and prevents Grant of Probate being issued and is therefore really useful in ensuring the will is provided, otherwise probate can not be issued, and assets can be disposed of. We can issue a caveat straightaway in very urgent cases.
We are a specialist contested probate solicitors and have expertise in all aspects of will disputes - Call our legal helpline for immediate legal help and assistance.