Can I contest a will?

In England and Wales individuals are generally free to leave their property and belongings to anyone they choose.  Sometimes, however, a Will comes as a surprise, or there is something odd about it: family members who expected to inherit are cut out of a Will, ‘strangers’ receive large gifts, the signature looks wrong or a new Will appears that was made when the person was very unwell.

 

If you are worried about a situation like this, our interactive Will dispute service will help you to decide whether you might have grounds to contest the Will and explains when the validity of a Will can be challenged. 

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Summary:

If, based upon the information above, you still have concerns about the validity of a Will then you should obtain expert legal advice – our experienced team are here to help – and consider taking the following steps:-

(1) Register a caveat through the Probate Registry. A caveat prevents a grant of probate (provided it has not already been issued before the application for the caveat is made). A grant of probate is authority for someone to administer an estate, in practice to collect in and distribute assets. If you have concerns about the validity of a Will it is advisable to register a caveat to prevent the estate being administered in accordance with that Will to give you the time to make investigations;

(2) Investigate the circumstances surrounding the preparation of the Will. If the Will was made by a professional, this will normally involve obtaining their papers. Further steps may include writing to the witnesses, obtaining medical records and requesting an expert medical or handwriting report.

These initial investigations will help to determine whether you have a good case for challenging the Will.