Challenges to the validity of a Will

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01 September, 2022

Tom Howcroft
Senior Associate

When someone dies those left behind often have a strong desire to seek expert legal advice and support to decide whether to bring or to defend a claim against the estate. Disputes concerning the administration or the distribution of trust funds or a deceased persons estate are increasing.

The most common disputes involve:

  • Challenges to the validity of a Will.
  • Claims for financial provision from an estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 by persons who were excluded as beneficiaries or who did not receive as much as they had expected.
  • Claims regarding how an estate or trust is being administered.


The recent case of Reeves v Drew & Ors decided earlier this year, is interesting not just due to the size of the estate, but upon the findings of dishonesty against several witnesses at trial including the Will draftsman.

Mr Justice Michael Green ordered against the validity of the deceased's 2014 Will on the grounds that the deceased executed the Will without the required knowledge and approval of its terms. Within the judgement the Deceased's daughter is heavily criticised as being the instigator of the disputed Will, which would have resulted in her receiving 80% of the estate.

The findings of dishonesty against the daughter were down to the opposition's preparation and pursuance of every available avenue, to ensure that all relevant evidence was before the court at trial.

The party seeking to challenge the 2014 Will had obtained mobile phone records, solicitors' notebooks, and investigated relevant property transactions and social media, to ensure they were able to disprove key parts of the opposition's witness evidence.

The Solicitor who drafted the disputed Will was heavily criticised and found to have created a false trail of evidence in the Will file. This case provides a useful example of a successful challenge to a Will, even when professionally drafted.

In addition to lack of knowledge and approval, the following are the most common grounds relied upon when challenging the validity of a Will:

  • Lack of testamentary capacity
  • Undue influence and fraud
  • Lack of proper formalities (i.e., a failure to validly execute the will)

How can Forbes help?

We offer a fixed fee to carry out initial investigations so that we can review and advise upon the prospects of a validity challenge before the costs and risks of court proceedings are incurred.

As a nationally recognised law firm we have a specialist team of solicitors with a proven track record of successfully concluding all manners of contentious probate issues quickly and cost-effectively.

We undertake complex and high value cases and represent both claimants and defendants. Our team has real expertise, and you can therefore be assured that you will receive the best quality expert advice and service.

We offer a free, no obligation initial conversation and will assess how we can assist you with your dispute. We will discuss flexible options in relation to funding including fixed fees, deferred fees, or 'no win, no fee' arrangements.

For more information contact Tom Howcroft in our Contesting a Will department via email or phone on 0333 207 1130. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

Learn more about our Contesting a Will department here

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