Challenging a Will

Dealing with bereavement is difficult and emotions can run high especially if someone has been treated unfairly.

We handle a wide range of disputes including:

  • Challenging the validity of a Will
  • Claiming that a Will is unfair (Inheritance Act claims)
  • Correcting errors in a Will or disputes about interpretation
  • Complaints about executors or trustees or disagreements between them

Challenging the validity of a Will

The main challenges to the validity of Wills revolve around:-

  • Whether the Will was duly executed ie signed and witnessed properly
  • Whether the person making the Will (the testator) had sufficient mental capacity
  • Whether someone exerted undue influence over the testator

If you have any concerns, you should take legal advice as soon as possible. The time-limits for taking action are relatively short and applied strictly by the Courts.

Claiming that a Will is unfair (Inheritance Act claims)

The starting-point is that a person is free to make a Will in whatever terms they wish and to leave their estate to whoever they wish.

However, the Inheritance Act allows close relatives and dependents to challenge a Will if it does not make reasonable financial provision for them. Claims can be brought by:

Spouses and civil partners

  • Former spouses and civil partners who have not remarried
  • Children or anyone treated as “children of the family”
  • People who were financially maintained by the person who has died
  • A person who lived with the deceased for 2 years immediately before they died

The Court will consider a range of factors when determining the issue of what is “reasonable” financial provision.

Correcting errors in Wills

Unfortunately, mistakes are made from time to time, especially with the increase in homemade Wills and willwriters who are not legally-qualified.

The Court has the power to rectify "clerical errors". Alternatively, if everyone affected agrees, a “Deed of Variation” can be completed to vary the wording in the Will.

If the Will was prepared by a professional willwriter or solicitor, you may be able to bring a professional negligence claim to recover any losses caused by their mistake including the cost of correcting the error.

Complaints about executors or trustees

We often deal with complaints about people handling estate administration or trusts. If they are not progressing matters or acting inappropriately, then ultimately, they can be removed by the Court.

If you have a complaint about an executor or trustee or a complaint has been made against you, please contact us for advice.

Flexible funding options

Legal costs will depend on the nature of the case, the type of claim and the amounts at stake.  Throughout your case, we keep an eye on the likely costs and benefits of litigation. There is no point running up a bill of £1,000 when only £500 is at stake. On the other hand, £50,000 of legal costs in a claim worth £5m could represent value for money especially if you recover the bulk of your legal costs from the other side.

You may already have cover for legal costs (this is often tagged on to home insurance policies). In some cases, legal costs can be paid from the estate.  

As well as traditional hourly rates, we offer a range of alternative charging structures in appropriate cases, including:-

  • Fixed fees for specific tasks or stages of work
  • Conditional Fee Agreements (‘No Win, No Fee’ or discounted fee arrangements)

If you think that a Will may be invalid or unfair, please either contact one of our Dispute Resolution specialists, complete our online enquiry form or telephone our client care team who will be pleased to guide you.