A Will ensures that when you die, your wishes are met, whether that be concerning who receives your assets or how much they get. Even Wills that a legal professional has drawn up can be subject to disputes regarding the contents of a Will.
When disputes arise, various legal procedures must be followed to ensure that the person’s wishes are met where possible and that all people who should benefit from the Will, do.
We have answered some frequently asked questions surrounding contentious probate and contesting a Will.
Why might someone dispute a Will?
There are various reasons why someone might dispute a Will. However, only some people have the right to contest a Will and must have a valid reason to do so. The most common circumstances in which a Will is disputed are:
- Asset value disputes
- Executor disputes
- Beneficiary disputes
- Trusts disputes
- Interpretation disputes
Who can legally contest a Will?
If you intend to dispute a Will, your reasoning should be concerning one of the below circumstances. The cost of disputing a Will can be high, so it is wise to seek the advice of a trusted legal professional, who can provide guidance as to whether you have a claim or not.
Reasons you may challenge a Will include:
- If you believe the person lacked testamentary capacity at the time they wrote their Will.
- If you believe that the Will was drawn up without the proper legal requirements.
- If you believe the person who made the Will was unaware of its contents.
- If you believe the person made the Will whilst being pressured or manipulated into writing or amending it.
- If you believe that the Will contains false information, there is a forged signature or it uses a fake name.
- If you believe there was a mistake(s) made in drafting the Will.
In many cases, it can be challenging to prove whether or not any of these circumstances occurred, which is why it is essential to seek the guidance of an experienced solicitor who can carefully guide you through contesting the Will. To speak to Muscatt Black Graf today about your Will dispute, please call 0207 586 1141 or fill in our contact form.
Do I have to go to Court?
The Court process can be costly and overwhelming at an already emotional time, which is why your solicitor should do all they can to assist you in resolving your dispute using Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods before advising that you take your matter to Court.
Typically, ADR will be quicker, cheaper and achieve a more amicable outcome. However, in cases where this is not possible, Muscatt Black Graf have the necessary experience to support you throughout the Court process.
What is the Inheritance Act 1975?
The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 allows a Will (or other intestacy rules) to be disputed in cases where a party is not adequately provided for following a death. The party must fall under one of the following categories of people, also known as ‘eligible claimants’:
- Spouse of the deceased.
- Former spouse of the deceased if they have not remarried.
- Partner who lived with the deceased for at least two years immediately before death.
- Child of the deceased.
- Person who was treated as a child by the deceased.
- Person who was financially supported by the deceased.
To claim under this act, you must demonstrate that the provision made (if any) is unreasonable. It is down to the discretion of the Court to decide what is ‘reasonably necessary’, and the outcome of these proceedings can significantly vary depending on the circumstances.
Can I make a proprietary estoppel claim?
‘Proprietary estoppel’ occurs when the testator promised you during their lifetime that you would receive all of or part of their estate, and that, when you did not receive what was assured, you suffered some disadvantage or detriment from not receiving the pledged gift.
As with most contentious probate claims, proprietary estoppel claims can be challenging to prove, so it is wise to speak to a legal professional.
Wills and Probate Solicitors Marylebone
At Muscatt Black Graf, our specialist Wills and Probate solicitors have extensive experience in assisting clients in making or defending a dispute against a Will.
This blog was prepared on 17 February 2023. It is not intended to be advice and should not be relied upon as such.