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Contesting a Will
The starting point in contesting any Will is ensuring that it has been written, signed and witnessed correctly in accordance with the law. A Will’s validity can be challenged upon a number of grounds:
A person must be of sound mind and understand what they are doing when making a Will. If there is any doubt that the person had testamentary capacity to make the Will then we will seek evidence, advise you on the strength of that evidence, and challenge the validity of the Will on your behalf.
- Due Execution
There are legal requirements when making a Will that must be followed if a Will is to be held as valid when the person dies. These include that the Will must be in writing and signed by the testator (or at their express direction), and it must be witnessed by at least two witnesses who are both present at the same time and also sign the Will.
- Undue Influence
If an individual is coerced or pressured by a third party in to making a Will or gifting them something under a Will then it can challenged as having been the result of undue influence. Coercion can be by physical violence, verbal bullying, or simply talking to a person who is seriously ill in such a way that the person may be induced for quietness sake to do anything.
- Lack of Knowledge and Approval
A person must both know and approve the contents of their Will. If the individual can be shown to have been unaware of the contents of the Will that they signed, or where there are suspicious circumstances surrounding the making of the Will, then it can be contested even if it has been properly executed and there is no doubt that the testator had capacity.
- Forgeries and Fraudulent Wills
If it is believed that a person’s signature has been forged upon a Will then it can of course be challenged under the law. Hand writing experts can be used to evidence that the signature upon the Will is not that of the deceased and, if the signature is not the deceased’s, then the Will is invalid for want of execution, as set out above.
- Rectification and Construction
There are times when a person’s Will may fail due to an error in drafting or because of a failure to understand the individual’s instructions. If there is an error in the drafting the Will can be challenged and rectified so that the deceased’s wishes can still be carried out. Similarly, if the interpretation of a clause of the Will is ambiguous or contradictory then the Courts can be asked to decide upon the meaning of the words used so that the estate can be administered correctly.
Certain classes of people can also make a claim against the Estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.
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