The death of a loved one can be hard enough, without going through the process of contesting a will. But if you think the deceased’s wishes have not been acted upon, or that foul play was involved in the creation of the will, there are legal processes to raise a formal objection and request the court to intervene in handling the estate.
You may want to contest a will if you feel you have been unfairly left out or inadequately provided for in someone’s will – especially if you believe you have a legal entitlement to receive some or all of their estate. Alternatively, if you are the executor of a will, you may need to dispute the will on somebody else’s behalf. If you need help in either area, we are here for you.
At PDA Law, we have a wealth of experience in helping our clients contest a will, so you can rest assured you are receiving only the highest quality legal advice during your case. We will always give constructive advice to help you understand whether it is appropriate to contest the will, and how to proceed with doing so.
Our expert team of contentious probate solicitors is on hand to provide help and advice. If you want to dispute a will, talk to PDA Law for a free no-obligation consultation. Call today on 01244 373 373.
What is contentious probate?
Contentious probate is the process of disputing a will. This dispute could be in regards to the value of assets, disagreeing with an executor, disagreeing with a beneficiary or disputing the interpretation of the will itself.
There are different levels of significance, although of course any case in which you choose to dispute a will is important. But it could range from questioning the division of assets between different beneficiaries, to excluding a beneficiary from the estate completely.
In most cases, a will is contested by a family member, and this may be a descendant who has not received what they expected to be left, or in some instances a current or former spouse when the deceased has remarried and the terms of the will exclude either partner unexpectedly.
Who can contest a will?
You may contest a will if you were related to the deceased in one of the following ways:
- A spouse or civil partner
- A former spouse who has not remarried
- A child
- A step child
- A partner who lived with the deceased for two or more years
- A dependant
Just because you fall into one of these categories, it does not automatically mean you are entitled to receive a payout from the deceased’s estate – and with good reason and a carefully written will, even blood relatives can be excluded from receiving an inheritance.
As such, we will always make sure to establish the background to the case and advise you on your likelihood of success, so that any further course of action has the best possible chance of overturning the existing terms of the will.
Grounds for disputing a will
There are several grounds upon which you can contest a will, including:
- lack of testamentary capacity – the deceased did not have the mental capacity to write a will at the time
- undue influence/coercion – the deceased was persuaded or threatened into the will
- lack of knowledge and approval – the deceased was unaware of the contents of the will and therefore could not approve it
- forgery and fraud – the will was made without the deceased’s knowledge
If you are unhappy with the terms of a will, a caveat should be ordered to stop the deceased’s estate from being distributed. The caveat stands for six months and should be in place whilst the terms of the will are being negotiated.
We are happy to take all general enquiries about inheritance disputes – so if you are facing circumstances not listed here, please get in touch for advice on whether you have grounds to make a claim or raise a dispute.
We can also advise on intestacy cases, where the deceased did not leave a will but you feel entitled to an inheritance from their estate, either as a relative or a long-term carer.
Time limits for contesting a will
If you are unhappy with a will, it is vital that you seek legal help as soon as possible. Time limits for contesting a will can be as little as six months and prompt action can put a stop on the estate being distributed.
By speaking to the experts here at PDA Law, we will be able to tell you how long you have to contest a will in your specific case, taking into account any time that has already elapsed.
Contact us today
If you want help or advice about disputing a will or intestacy proceedings, contact our specialist contentious probate solicitors today. Simply call us on 01244 373 373 or fill out our online enquiry form and we will get in touch with you at a convenient time.