Most of us have at least a rough idea of who we would like to see our estate go to when we die. Whether it is possessions, money or property, it’s important to make sure that we get our wishes down on paper in the right way if they are to be carried out. Get it wrong and you could give someone the grounds for contesting a will.
It would seem at first glance that wills are easy to make yourself, now that there are so many DIY packs available that appear to cut out the need to see a solicitor. But in fact, this can often be the worst way to make a will. The law is very precise about how it should be done and what wording is used and if you make your own will in order to save money now, it could end up costing your beneficiaries and loved ones dearly in the long run. There are a lot of potential grounds for contesting a will and where substantial money is at stake there are no end of lawyers, who will deal with a UK contested probatecase on a no win no fee basis.
A UK contested probate solicitor can advise you on the grounds for disputing a will in addition to the procedure for litigating potentially invalid wills as well as the law regarding lost or destroyed wills. Most UK contested probate lawyers will also give you free initial advice on potential litigation surrounding a will with inadequate provisions for the care of a deceased’s dependent. Below are three of the most commonly litigated grounds for contesting a will:
A valid will is one that is made by a mentally sound adult who was not suffering undue influence at the time of signature. Additionally, for a will to be valid, it must be signed by two independent witnesses, present at the same time together, who witnessed either the will being signed or an acknowledgement by the testator that the signature on the will was genuine. If a witness is also a beneficiary then whilst that situation does not give rise to grounds for contesting a will in its entirety it does mean that the witness will lose their legacy.
The dependents of a deceased person have a right to continued financial support. If the deceased’s will does not make adequate provisions for a spouse, child or disabled person, that individual can pursue legal action on what is one of the strongest grounds for contesting a will.
In some cases, the Registry may accept a copy of a will when the original has been lost. If agreement cannot be reached a full court hearing is held and a judge decides, based on the evidence presented, if the will in question was deliberately revoked by destruction or merely lost or accidentally damaged or destroyed in which case it is still valid and a copy will suffice to obtain a grant of probate.
Whether you are about to make your own will or you believe you should be a beneficiary of someone else’s, it is very important to consult the right solicitor who has experience in dealing with these matters. Speed is of the essence in these cases, so if you are in need of help regarding a particular situation concerning a will then make sure you get in touch with a wills and probate solicitor as soon as possible.