Losing a loved one can be very difficult. It can be made worse to find out that you have unexpectedly been left out of their will.

It is becoming more and more common that people are wanting to challenge wills. More than ever, families are more extended, with step children, adopted children, former spouses etc. This can make probate more complex especially when someone has been unexpectedly left out.

There are a number of routes by which you can challenge a deceased’s will.

How can I challenge a will?

Inheritance Act 1975

If you are a spouse, former spouse, child of the deceased or financially dependent on the deceased, you may be entitled to make a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975. We have looked at this in more detail in a separate article.

Challenging the validity of the will

If you are not covered by the Inheritance Act, you will need to prove that the will itself is invalid. If you are successful, the court will declare that the will is invalid, and it will revert to the previous validly made will. In the event that there was no previous valid will, then the rules of intestacy apply. The rules of intestacy will give the estate to the deceased’s closest living relative or relatives (in accordance with a strict order of priority), and not in accordance with their wishes.
There are various ways of challenging the validity of a will, which include:

Invalid execution

To be valid, a will must be in writing and be signed by the maker of the will and by two independent witnesses

Fraud and forgery

A will must be signed by the maker and must not be signed by anyone ‘acting’ for them. If there is any suspicion that the deceased did not sign their will, this should be investigated.

Lack of capacity

The maker of the will must have mental capacity at the time of making the will.
Capacity means that you are able to understand and make decisions. In relation to wills, the maker of the will must understand that they are making a will and understand the significance of including and excluding certain people from the will.

Lack of knowledge and approval

The maker of the will must know and understand what is contained within their will and approve it.

Undue influence

The maker of the will must not be unduly influenced or coerced into making a will, or under duress.
If you are concerned that one of these scenarios applies, thorough investigation will be required to determine whether you have a claim.
If you are looking to challenge a will, our wills and contentious probate solicitors can help you. Call today on 0800 988 7756 for a free initial consultation.
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