When a loved one passes away, the last thing you want to be worrying about is what happens to their estate and assets, and thankfully, if they have a will, things are often much easier. However, this isn’t always the case and sometimes, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to dispute a will. This process is known as contentious probate and, as you may expect, it can be undeniably difficult for everyone involved.
There are a number of different reasons why someone may choose to contest a will and doing so isn’t always a straightforward process. When looking into contentious probate, there is a lot of complex information out there and it can be difficult to understand. So to help anyone who has recently lost a loved one, below we have answered some of the most commonly asked questions about contentious probate in general.
Why do People Contest Wills?
People contest wills for lots of different reasons but they fall into one of two categories;
- They believe that the will is invalid and will therefore claim against its validity
- They believe that they haven’t been adequately provided for in the will and will therefore claim under The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
How Long do you Have to Make a Claim?
Depending on what your reasons may be for contesting a Will and depending on what claim you’re making, the time limit you have will differ. For example, if you are claiming that the will was invalid then there is no time limit, whereas if you’re claiming under The Inheritance Act 1975 you only have 6 months to do so from the date of the grant of probate.
A specialist will be able to advise you further, so be sure to reach out to someone as soon as possible to ensure you’re within any required time frames.
How do you Know if a Will is Valid?
There are a number of different things you have to do to ensure a will is valid, including;
- The will must be in writing
- It must have been made voluntarily and without influence
- You must be of sound mind when making the will
- It must be signed by two valid witnesses
If you believe that the process of making your loved one’s will failed to comply with the law and you’d like to contest it because it is therefore invalid, it is best to contact an experienced probate solicitor.
Who Can Contest a Will?
Simply put, anyone who is likely to benefit from a will or from the rules of intestacy is able to contest a will, depending on what your reasons are for doing so.
The Inheritance Act 1975, sets out who is able to make a claim if they feel as though they didn’t receive what they expected after their loved one passed away. These people include;
- A spouse of the deceased
- A former spouse of the deceased (if they haven’t remarried)
- A partner who lived with the deceased for at least 2 years
- A child of the deceased
- A person who was supported financially by the deceased
Should you fall under any of these categories and have reasonable grounds to do so, you will likely be able to make a claim.
What is Considered ‘Reasonable Grounds’?
Whilst contesting against the validity of a will is fairly straightforward, if you’re contesting that you haven’t been adequately provided for you will need reasonable grounds for doing so, these include things such as;
- The will isn’t in accordance with the deceased’s wishes
- The deceased did not have the required mental capacity
- The deceased didn’t fully understand the meaning of the will
- The will was made under undue influence
- The will was procured by fraud
No matter what your reasons may be for wanting to contest a will, an experienced solicitor will be able to inform you as to whether you have reasonable grounds to do so or not.
Contacting a Probate Solicitor Near You
Whilst there is no denying that there is a lot to get your head around when it comes to contentious probate, hopefully, the information above will have been beneficial. Should you have any additional questions about your individual situation in this regard, it is always worthwhile reaching out to an experienced probate solicitor who will be able to provide you with the tailored advice that you’re looking for.
When searching for a local probate solicitor who can assist you with contesting a will, please visit the Location Lawyer website. We pride ourselves on being able to connect those in need of legal advice with a community of specialists and a simple search on our website will bring up a number of law firms near you. Whether you’re looking for probate solicitors in Sheffield or probate solicitors in Reading, we can help you find those closest to you.