Contesting a will and disagreements over inheritance
Being left out of a will can be very difficult to understand. There may be many reasons why your family member has written their will as they have, and it can be hard to understand the reasons why you’ve been excluded when you feel you should have been provided for.
But the real question for you in these circumstances is can you do anything about it?
In short, yes you can, but challenging a will, also known as contesting a will, really depends on you being in a position to prove that something is wrong with the will.
This could include problems with the drafting (writing) if the will, that your family member was put under pressure to exclude you from their will or pressurised to change it at the last minute. This means you have to have some legal reason to challenge it.
Some of the legal reasons that may mean you can successfully challenge a will are:
A mistake in the writing of the will – for a will to be legally binding it has to meet a number of set criteria, including how the will is signed and witnessed. If the will does not meet these criteria it may not be valid. If the will was written by a solicitor or will writing company, you could look at a Professional Negligence claim against them in addition to the dispute over the will.
Lack of capacity– the law is clear that you have to have the mental capacity to make a will. You have to understand what a will is, what you can leave in it and consider all those who may expect to receive something in it. If the will was written by someone who lacked capacity and you can prove this, the will could be invalid.
Inheritance Act Claims – a will gives you the opportunity to leave your estate to whoever you want, but the law does say that your husband or wife or your civil partner, your children and those financially dependent on you can make a claim if you have not made reasonable provision for them in your will. If you are a dependant and you’ve been omitted from a will, you may be in a position to challenge it under the Inheritance Act.
Undue Influence – some elderly people can be bullied or forced into changing their wills either by family members or carers. This is a very difficult allegation to prove unless you have evidence to support it.
The Executor is not completing their duties correctly – the Executor of an estate has a legal responsibility to make sure that they are executing the wishes of the person who died. If you think they are not completing their duties correctly, you could try to remove them as Executor and you could seek compensation from them.
What can I do?
You should speak to a solicitor who specialises in wills and probate disputes as soon as possible as there are time limits in place to make a claim against a will. You can call our team on 0117 926 4121 for a free initial discussion or make a free enquiry online and we will help you.
One of our professional and experienced team will discuss your circumstances with you in detail so we can understand the situation you are in. This will help us to give you advice on whether we think your will dispute may be successful or not.
If we think you have a good chance of success, we could offer you a 'no win no fee' agreement, also known as a CFA or a conditional fee agreement. This means we’ll take on your case and if you lose, we won’t be paid for our work on your case.
We can only offer no win no fee agreements in some cases. But if we can't offer you a CFA, we’ll give you a good estimate of the cost of the work involved so you know immediately the commitment you are making.
Once you’ve decided if you want to go ahead, a member of our disputes resolution team will keep you informed of progress and the costs of your case from start to finish.
Remember, it will cost you nothing to speak to a solicitor to find our if you have a claim or make a free enquiry online.
Time limits to challenge a will
There are a number of different time limits to challenge a will which depend on the type of claim you are making. It’s really important to get advice as soon as you can so you don’t miss the opportunity to claim.
Some deadlines are as short as six months, so act now.
Call Us Now
To speak to one of our experienced will disputes solicitors for a free initial discussion, call us now on 0117 926 4121, or make a free enquiry online and we will help you.