Challenging Wills

The loss of a loved one is a deeply sensitive and emotional time. This can be compounded if you feel that the will does not reflect the testator’s wishes or if you have been unexpectedly left out of the will.

Wills are seen as the voice of the testator, the person who made the will, and is an extremely important document. Generally, a person’s will is an accurate reflection of their wishes and is adhered to without challenge.

However, there are situations in which a will challenge may be necessary. There are many different grounds to challenge a will. The first step is to establish that you have a legal right to do so.

Valid reasons to contest a will include:

  • Lack of due execution – that the will did not comply with the formalities of a valid will pursuant to Section 9 of the Wills Act 1837.
  • Revocation – that the will has been revoked by marriage, another will, something in writing declaring an intention to revoke, burning, tearing or otherwise destroying the will with the intention of revoking it.
  • Lack of testamentary capacity – the person making the will must have had mental capacity at the time of making a will.  The test of mental capacity is often challenged where older people change their will and their mental capacity, maybe through illness, comes into question.
  • Lack of knowledge and approval – the person making the will must know and approve of the contents of the will.
  • Undue influence – there will be undue influence if the person making the will was coerced into making a will that they do not want to make. 

If you challenge a will and are success, the court could void the will in part or in whole.  Sometimes a provision from a previous will can be reinstated.  If the entire will is voided then the court will look at the previous will of the testator or if one does not exist, the distribution will follow intestacy laws. 

If you wish to challenge a will it is important that action is taken promptly. If assets of the estate are distributed this can seriously complicate matters and could have a detrimental impact on your claim. We can provide advice on every aspect of challenging a will or intestacy including the necessary procedures and whether a claim is likely to be successful.

If you would like expert advice on this complicated area, please contact us on 020 3928 7102 or email info@judge-priestley.co.uk.