Contesting a Will

If you have been left out of a friend or family member's will then you may be able to make a claim.

More about Contesting a Will

Our experienced Will disputes solicitors at Forbes are here to help you contest a Will if you believe that it is invalid or does not reflect the true wishes of the deceased.

Our Will dispute solicitors understand that the process of contesting a Will can be emotionally challenging and complex, which is why we offer a supportive and compassionate service to guide you through the legal proceedings.

What is Contesting a Will?

What is Contesting a Will?

Contesting a Will refers to the legal process of challenging the validity of a Will. A Will can be challenged because it was not created in compliance with the legal formalities, it does not say what the deceased wanted, the deceased did not have the mental capacity to make the Will, or they were coerced into making the Will. A Will can also be challenged on grounds that it is a forgery.

Disputes can also arise because of an argument about the correct interpretation of the words used in the Will.

Contesting a Will: No Win, No Fee

Contesting a Will: No Win, No Fee

Contesting a Will on a no win, no fee basis can be done in many circumstances. It means that if the claim is not successful, the client will not need to pay any legal fees for trying to challenge the Will.

The death of a loved one can be a difficult and stressful time, sometimes heightened if there has been complications with a Will. This is when the act of contesting a Will can come into play.

If you have been left out of a friend or family member's Will, or if you do not think you have been left enough, then you may be able to make a claim for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

From the beginning and from first contact, Tom Howcroft at Forbes stood well above any other firms that I approached: Responsive, respectful, courteous, professional, knowledgeable, clear and helpful in every way. The whole process of my claim was handled efficiently and also with clarity & transparency from the outset regarding costs. Clear requests for relevant & necessary information were well communicated, and therefore supplied & delivered to present a strong & legitimate case. At all times throughout the year up to Mediation, Tom was there to answer any questions & queries, and to prepare me for the process. Mediation Agreement was achieved, and the funds delivered to my bank on the due date.

Viviane
Grounds for Contesting a will

Grounds for Contesting a will

In some circumstances a Will may not be valid. There are number of ways to contest a Will and challenge its validity:

  • Lack of mental capacity. With an ageing population, the rise in cases of dementia and a greater awareness of other mental health issues, there is a definite rise in challenges to Wills on the basis the testator lacked mental capacity. If the person did not have the requisite mental capacity, the Will is not valid.

  • Lack of knowledge and approval of the terms of a Will. This is often linked to lack of mental capacity but can also be argued in other cases such as where English is not the first language for example. If a person did not know and approve the terms of the Will, the Will is not valid.

  • Undue influence. It is often the case that a testator makes a Will at a time when they are particularly vulnerable, whether that is because of age or ill health, and this is open to abuse. If a person is forced into making a Will, then the Will is invalid.

  • Fraud and forgery. If a Will is forged or the signature is forged, then it is not valid. We can often get handwriting experts to provide evidence on this.

  • Will not properly executed. There are certain formalities set out by the Wills Act 1837 which must be satisfied in order for a Will to be valid. This includes a Will being in writing, signed and witnessed. If a Will is not properly executed, it is invalid. You may also be able to claim if you have been promised an inheritance and not received it.

Why choose our contesting a Will solicitors?

Why choose our contesting a Will solicitors?

At Forbes Solicitors, our specialist lawyers are dedicated to providing personalised and effective legal representation to clients who are seeking to challenge a Will. With years of experience and a deep understanding of the law, our solicitors will work tirelessly to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the outcome you deserve.

We pride ourselves on our commitment to excellence and service levels, and we will do everything in our power to help you achieve a successful outcome. Choose us for expert legal advice and representation that you can trust.

How can our contesting a Will lawyers help?

Our contesting a Will solicitors help individuals who believe they have been unfairly treated in a Will, including those who have been left out of a Will, received an inadequate share, or have concerns about the validity of the Will.


To find out more about contesting a will in your area, visit our dedicated pages:

Manchester

London

Birmingham

Yorkshire

Contesting a Will Case Studies

Contesting a Will Case Studies

  • We were asked by our client to resolve a dispute concerning the Estate of his late son. Initially, it was understood that our client's son had died without making a Will so that his Estate was to be divided equally between his parents. The pair had separated many years before and relationships between the two were fractious. Several months after the death of our client's son his mother claimed to have located a Will made by him leaving his estate to her alone. We were able to prove that the Will was a forgery and our client received half of a substantial estate totalling several hundred thousand pounds.

  • Our client's husband died making a Will in which she was left nothing and passed his entire estate to two daughters of his first marriage. Our client was threatened with penury and homelessness. We succeeded in recovering a significant share of the estate for our client in order to provide her with financial security going forward.

  • Our client cohabited with his partner for many years. The couple lived in a property that was owned by our client's partner alone. Our client's partner died leaving a Will passing his estate to a family member leaving our client without a home in his retirement when he was no longer able to fund his living costs through paid employment. We succeeded in securing our client a share of the estate to help him meet his living costs going forward.

Recognition for our work

Additional Information

Contesting a Will after probate

You can contest a Will after Probate. The process may be different to contesting a Will before probate, but a specialist solicitor will be able to advise you on this. If you have an issue it is always best to contest a Will before the Grant of Probate, as when Probate is granted the Executor can administer the Estate and sell property, access bank accounts, etc. This may make it more difficult to enforce any judgment you get in your favour as the assets may have been spent.

The process of contesting a Will

Contesting a Will is not straight forward and there are a number of different ways it can be done. At Forbes, our process is roughly that we first look to speak with you in detail about your claim, carry out initial investigations and advise you of the legal position surrounding your case. We will then write to the opponent and put your case to them in full.

After we receive a detailed response from the opponent we may then look to organise a mediation to attempt to resolve the matter without the need for court proceedings.

If mediation is not successful, then we will need to issue court proceedings. We will advise you thoroughly of the cost and risk of doing this, to ensure that you are comfortable with all details.

Contesting a Will time limits

In some cases, there are strict time limits to contest a Will and if you have an issue you should contact us without delay to ensure a claim is brought in time.

To make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, you have six months from the date of the Grant of Probate to bring a claim. However, you can bring a claim out of time if you have a good reason, and we can advise you on that.

If the time limit has passed or if the time limit is approaching, it is important that you act fast and contact us without delay.

In some cases there are no time limits to contest a Will, and we will advise you of that in our initial free consultation.

Contesting a Will costs

There is no set cost to how much it will cost to contest a Will, as it will vary based on the Solicitor you choose as well as the nature of your claim.

With Forbes Solicitors, your initial telephone consultation with a specialist Wills & Probate Solicitor is completely free. After that, we offer extreme flexibility with fees and funding, which sometimes includes operating on a "no win, no fee" basis, and we can also defer costs to ensure we work with clients as efficiently and cost effectively as possible.

Contested Probate Claims

Every contested probate claim and case is different - and yours is likely to be unique, too. As such, it's difficult to predict what your case may look like, or the exact path that your claim may take.

If you feel that you would like to pursue a contesting a Will claim, then the first step that you need to make is finding a trusted and specialist Solicitor. Our experienced team of Probate and Wills Solicitors can advise you on all aspects of your claim, and provide you with whatever support you need throughout the case.

Contesting a Will solicitors

Forbes Solicitors have a nationally recognised team of specialist Contentious Wills, Trusts and Probate lawyers. Our lawyers are recognised and recommended by the prestigious "Legal 500", a directory listing top lawyers and firms, and are associate members of the esteemed Association of Contentious Trusts and Probate Specialists and the Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners.

We are extremely flexible with fees and funding and offer a free initial telephone consultation with one of our specialist lawyers. We often pursue matters of a "no win, no fee" basis, we can defer costs and we work with clients to ensure their matter is pursued as efficiently and cost effectively as possible.

The team act for clients on local, national and international basis on a range of Contentious Wills, Trust and Probate matters. We have significant experience in acting for claimants, defendants, executors and beneficiaries in a variety of matters, including:

  • Claims for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

  • Challenging the validity of wills on the basis of lack of capacity, lack of knowledge and approval of the terms of the will, lack of proper execution, and fraud and forgery.

  • Executor and trustee disputes including applications to the court for directions on the administration of trusts.

  • Claims against executors for maladministration.

  • Promises of gifts prior to death.

  • Challenging lifetime gifts made to friends and relatives.

Contesting a Will FAQs

Can you contest a Will?

Yes, a Will can be contested if there are grounds to do so. This can include if the Will was not properly executed, if the person making the Will did not have the capacity to do so, if they were unduly influenced, or if there are disputes over the distribution of assets. Contesting a Will can be a complex legal process and it is recommended to seek the advice of a solicitor.

What happens when a Will is contested?

When a Will is contested it means that someone is challenging the validity of the Will. This can happen if they believe the Will was not properly executed, the person making the Will did not have the capacity to do so, or if they suspect foul play. The matter could proceed to court, and a Judge will decide whether the Will is valid or not. If the Will is deemed invalid, the deceased's estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy or a previous valid Will.

Can anyone contest a Will?

No, the claimant must benefit from the claim to be able to contest a Will. For example, they must benefit under the intestacy rules or the previous will to challenge the validity of the Will.

There are various classes of people that can make a claim including children, people treated as children (including step children), spouses and former spouses, and any person maintained wholly or partly by the deceased before death (this could include wider family members, friends or partners).

If you stand to inherit under the terms of a previous Will or under the rules of intestacy, then you are likely to be able to contest the Will.

If you are making a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 for reasonable financial provision then there are a limited number of people who can claim. If you wish to contest a Will, please give us a call or fill in our online claim form and we will discuss with you whether you are able.

Can a Will be contested by a sibling?

Yes, a sibling can contest a Will if they would benefit under the previous Will or the intestacy rules. However, contesting a Will can be a complex and costly process, and it is recommended to seek legal advice before proceeding.

Each contesting a Will claim is different, so it's important that you seek the expertise and advise of a specialist solicitor for advice on your specific circumstances. If you wish to contest a Will, please give us a call and we will discuss with you whether you are able.

Can grandchildren contest a Will?

Yes, grandchildren can contest a Will if they would benefit under the previous Will or the intestacy rules. If you wish to contest a Will, please get in touch with Forbes and we will discuss with you whether you are able.

When can a Will be contested?

A Will can be contested if it is believed to be invalid due to lack of capacity, undue influence, fraud, or improper execution. It can also be contested if there is a dispute over the distribution of assets or if the Will does not comply with legal requirements.

How much does it cost to contest a will?

How much contesting a Will costs will depend on the specific circumstances involved as this will affect the amount of work involved in challenging the existing Will. Complex Wills involving several parties and the type of evidence required may be more costly to contest.

At Forbes, we are flexible with fees in order to suit your needs. We often pursue matters on a "no win, no fee" basis, we can defer costs and we work with clients to ensure their matter is pursued as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

How to contest a Will and win

To contest a Will and win you must benefit from the claim and have valid grounds, such as lack of capacity, undue influence, or improper execution. You need good evidence in support of the ground you are pursuing.

Your solicitor will be able to help with every aspect of the process and has the experience needed from previous contested Wills they have been involved with to build a strong body of supporting evidence that has the best chance of success.

Who can contest a Will?

Anyone who would benefit from a claim or who has an interest in the estate of the deceased can contest a Will. This could include family members, beneficiaries, and creditors. However, they must have valid grounds for contesting the Will, such as undue influence, lack of capacity, or fraud.

What are the grounds for contesting a Will?

The grounds for contesting a Will include lack of testamentary capacity, lack of knowledge and approval of the terms of the Will, undue influence, fraud or forgery, and improper execution. Lack of testamentary capacity refers to the testator's inability to understand the nature and effect of making a Will. Undue influence occurs when the testator is coerced or forced into making a particular provision in the Will.

Fraud or forgery refers to the creation or alteration of a Will with the intention to deceive. Improper execution refers to failure to comply with the legal formalities required for making a valid Will.

What proof do you need to contest a Will?

To contest a Will you need to provide evidence that the Will was not executed properly, the deceased lacked mental capacity when making the Will, the deceased was unduly influenced or coerced into making the Will, or the Will is fraudulent or forged. You may also contest a Will if you were not adequately provided for as a dependent of the deceased.

What are the consequences of contesting a Will?

Contesting a Will can result in a lengthy and expensive legal process, which may lead to the Will being upheld or declared invalid. If the Will is overturned, the deceased's assets will be distributed according to intestacy laws or a previous valid Will. Contesting a Will can also cause family disputes and damage relationships. The losing party may be required to pay some or all of the legal costs of the winning party.

Do I need a solicitor to contest a Will?

No, you do not need a solicitor to contest a Will. However, it is recommended to seek legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in Contentious, Trusts and Probate to ensure that you understand the legal process and your rights. Contesting a Will can be risky, complex or emotional, and a solicitor can provide guidance and support throughout the process.

How long do I have to contest a Will?

You have six months from the date of the grant to issue a claim under the Inheritance Act otherwise you would need the permission of the court to do so. There are no such time scales for a challenge to the validity of a Will. But it is recommended to seek legal advice if you are considering contesting a Will as soon as practicable to avoid the estate administration and distribution taking place.

What is the process for contesting a Will?

To contest a Will you must first have the legal standing, such as being a beneficiary or someone who would benefit from the claim. The process involves sending a pre-action letter of claim setting out the grounds for the claim and the evidence in support. If necessary, some disputes will result in a claim being issued at court and the outcome being decided by a Judge following a trial.

What happens if I win a claim to challenge a Will?

If you are successful in a claim to challenge a Will, the court may declare the Will invalid and set it aside. The deceased person's estate will then be distributed according to a previous valid Will, or the rules of intestacy, which means that their assets will be divided among their surviving relatives in a predetermined order. However, if the court finds that the Will was made under undue influence or fraud, it may also order that the person who exerted such influence or committed fraud be excluded from inheriting any part of the estate.

Can I contest a Will if I am not named in it?

Yes, you can contest a Will even if you are not named in it. However, you must also have the legal standing to contest the Will, which typically means you must be a spouse, child, or dependent of the deceased for an Inheritance Act claim, or benefit under a previous Will or the intestacy rules in a validity challenge.

What is the difference between a Will contest and a probate dispute?

A Will contest is a legal challenge to the validity of a Will. A probate dispute is a disagreement over the administration of an estate, such as the distribution of assets or the appointment or removal of an Executor.

Can I contest a Will if it was made outside of the UK?

Yes, it may be possible to contest a Will made outside of the UK. However, the laws of the country where the Will was made may also need to be considered. It is recommended to seek legal advice from a specialist in International Wills and Estates.

Our dedicated Contesting a Will team

John Lambe.jpg

Partner, Contesting a Will

John Lambe

Tom Howcroft.jpg

Partner, Contesting a Will

Tom Howcroft

rebecca-beaumont.jpg

Senior Associate, Contesting a Will

Rebecca Beaumont

Related News & Insights

Recognising signs of financial abuse

Insights Contesting a Will 8 mins read

Recognising signs of financial abuse

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975

Insights Contesting a Will 7m 18s

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975

Burial and Funeral Arrangement Disputes

Insights Contesting a Will 7 min read

Burial and Funeral Arrangement Disputes

What can a disappointed beneficiary do to challenge how an estate is to be divided?

Insights Contesting a Will 7 min read

What can a disappointed beneficiary do to challenge how an estate is to be divided?

A spouse whose marriage ends in death must not be in a worse position than one whose marriage ends in divorce

Insights Contesting a Will 7 min read

A spouse whose marriage ends in death must not be in a worse position than one whose marriage ends in divorce

Winter vs Winter - Will rejected on grounds of proprietary estoppel

Insights Contesting a Will 7 min read

Winter vs Winter - Will rejected on grounds of proprietary estoppel

Financial Abuse of a Vulnerable Adult

Insights Contesting a Will 7 min read

Financial Abuse of a Vulnerable Adult

Contesting a Will Services

Insights Contesting a Will 3m 21s

Contesting a Will Services

Steps You Can Take to Avoid a Posthumous Probate Dispute

Insights Wills, Probate, T... 3m 10s

Steps You Can Take to Avoid a Posthumous Probate Dispute

We're proud to support Update Your Will Week 2024

Insights Wills, Probate, T... 7 min read

We're proud to support Update Your Will Week 2024

Business Lasting Power of Attorney

Insights Wills, Probate, T... 5m 57s

Business Lasting Power of Attorney

Lasting Power of Attorney

Insights Wills, Probate, T... 2m 41s

Lasting Power of Attorney

Give yourself the gift of peace of mind this Christmas

Insights Wills, Probate, T... 7 min read

Give yourself the gift of peace of mind this Christmas

Lasting Powers of Attorney: Taking Control of Your Future

Insights Wills, Probate, T... 6 min

Lasting Powers of Attorney: Taking Control of Your Future

The effects of marriage and divorce on Wills

Insights Wills, Probate, T... 7 min read

The effects of marriage and divorce on Wills

The importance of having a correctly drafted Will

Insights Wills, Probate, T... 7 min read

The importance of having a correctly drafted Will

Need any more help? 

Choose a related service

Our experts are available to advise and guide you on a wide-range of legal matters. Feel free to get in touch.

 

0800 689 3206 - Monday - Friday: 09:00 - 17:00

Request a call back

Contact Us

If you have an enquiry then please fill in your details below and someone will contact you.

0800 689 3607 - Monday - Friday: 09:00 - 17:00

Request a call back

By submitting your enquiry you agree that Forbes can contact you.

© 2024 Forbes Solicitors is the trading name of Forbes Solicitors LLP Offices in Preston, Manchester, Salford, Blackburn, Blackpool, London and Leeds UK Main Office: Rutherford House, 4 Wellington Street (St Johns), Blackburn, Lancashire, BB1 8DD • Vat No: 174 394 344 Forbes Solicitors is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA No. 816356). Details of the SRA’s Standards and Regulations can be found here.

This website has implemented reCAPTCHA v3 and your use of reCAPTCHA v3 is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.