Disputes in relation to inheritance and will validity is often referred to in the legal world as ‘contentious probate’. In this article, we will focus on the area of will validity and how a will might be challenged.
Grounds for Contesting a Will
Lack of Due Execution
A will must be executed in a particular manner; it must be in writing, signed by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses (who must also attest and sign the will at that same time) and the testator must intend to give effect to the will when signing. Clerical errors and poor drafting can have the result of a will being found to be invalid. Should you find yourself in this position, you may also consider bringing a professional negligence claim against the solicitors or will writers; we can also assist and advice on this.
Sometimes there is suspicion that the will has been altered or forged in some way without the knowledge or authority of the testator. An example of this is that the handwriting or signature might be different from the person who was supposed to have the will.
This is when the person who has made the will was put under pressure or coerced in to making the will. The court recognise this and refer to this as ‘undue influence’. Should you be concerned that the person who made the will was unduly influenced in to doing so, we can assist and advise on this. We can also assist and advise should you be a beneficiary or an executor that is faced with an allegation of undue influence regarding the will.
When a person executes their will, they must at all times have the requisite capacity to do so. This means that they must understand what they are doing, they need to be able to comprehend and appreciate the contents of their estate and the gifts that they are making. The person must be of ‘sound mind’. Should the person have a condition, illness or injury that effects their mind and their ability to think rationally this in turn will bring the testators capacity into issue.
Knowledge and Approval
The person making the will, known as the testator, must have knowledge of the terms of the will and approve its content for the will to be valid. Sometimes suspicious circumstances arise which cast doubt as to whether the person making the will had the requisite knowledge and approval. For example, where someone writes or prepares a will under which they take a benefit, this could be said to ‘excite the suspicion of the court’.
Should you be concerned about any of the above, or if a caveat has been entered to stop the grant of probate, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01252 733 770 for a confidential discussion or email us at email@example.com.