Dealing with the death of a family member, a close friend, or any loved one is never easy. The last thing you want to have to do is contest a Will. However, you may believe that your loved one’s Will doesn’t express their true feelings or may have been altered or created under duress. Perhaps you have evidence that the execution of the Will was invalid.
There are measures you can take to gain some clarity and even contest a Will if necessary. In this article, we will cover what the grounds are for contesting a will and how you can begin the process of doing so.
What Are The Grounds For Contesting A Will?
There are typically two legal grounds for contesting a will:
- The Will is invalid.
- The Will fails to make adequate financial provision for a close family member (or someone who was financially dependent on the deceased).
The grounds for challenging a Will may include:
Forgery – A claimant can challenge the validity of a Will if they have legitimate evidence that the Will was tampered with or forged in any way. For example, if the signature on the Will is not the testator’s (A testator is a person whose Will it is).
Improper Execution – For a Will to be valid, two witnesses must be present when the testator signs it. If there is any evidence that suggests that there weren’t any witnesses present, the Will may be null and void due to undue execution.
Mental Capacity – According to the law, the testator must be of “sound mind, understanding and memory” when composing their Will. The legal term for this is “testamentary capacity”. The individual should be aware of the nature of their property, how they want it to be distributed. To contest a Will on the grounds of lack of testamentary capacity, you’ll have to provide proof that the testator did not have capacity.
The First Steps In Contesting A Will
Contesting a Will is a sensitive matter, but it’s vital to act quickly. You should consult an experienced legal professional as soon as possible to find out whether you have substantial evidence to make a claim.
Once you get confirmation that you have valid legal grounds for contesting the Will, then you can file a “caveat” or a formal complaint at the Probate Registry Office. A “caveat” lasts for up to six months and can be renewed if necessary. By making a formal complaint, the probate process will cease, suspending the distribution of the deceased estate until the dispute is resolved.
Often, when you contest a Will, you can settle it through mediation. However, if the involved parties cannot reach an agreement, a formal court complaint or petition is then submitted to allow a judge to make the decision. Court costs can rack up rather quickly and take several months to resolve the dispute in court. Therefore, it’s best to try to negotiate an agreement outside the courtroom if possible.
Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors Is Here to Help
Contesting a Will is a complex process requiring authentic evidence and assistance from a legal expert. It’s futile to take on such a fight by yourself.
Contact us to schedule a consultation today.