Contested Wills

Sometimes after a will is read, people have concerns that the will may not be valid or has been changed in some way. The most frequent causes of concern involve suspicions that the deceased wasn’t of sound mind when they made the will or that someone unduly influenced them to change the will in their favour.

The court will always initially assume that the will is valid so it is up to the contestant to prove that it isn’t. To contest a will the first step is to contact a local solicitor and apply for a caveat. This will prevent the estate from being distributed for the next six months.

There are several ways in which a Will can be contested:

  • it can be judged invalid and set aside altogether.
  • there can be a dispute over what is intended so that some (or all) bequests may fail.
  • a dependant may make a claim to the court if the Will does not provide for them.

Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, a will can be contested if:

  • you are the husband or wife of the deceased, a former husband or wife of the deceased (and you have not remarried), a child of the deceased or if you were treated by the deceased as their own child in relation to a marriage (for example, a step child).
  • you were being maintained by the deceased before their death even if you do not fall into any of the above categories.
  • you have been living with and as the partner of the deceased for a period of no less than 2 years prior to their death.

You need to think very carefully before you decide to contest a Will. It can be a difficult and stressful process that can be time consuming, complex, costly and emotionally draining. It can also cause irreparable damage to family relationships.