Can a Will be Contested After Probate?

Writing a will is an important part of ensuring that your final wishes are carried out after your passing. However, despite the best intentions, there are situations where a will may be contested by interested parties. The process of challenging a will typically occurs before probate, when the court determines the validity and execution of the document. But what happens if a will has already gone through probate? Can it still be contested? In this article, we will explore the possibility of contesting a will after probate and the factors that come into play.

Grounds for Contesting a Will

Contesting a will typically requires valid legal grounds. Common reasons for challenging a will include some form of undue influence, lack of capacity, fraud, duress, lack of proper formalities or the existence of a more recent will. These grounds are typically evaluated during the probate process, allowing interested parties to voice their concerns and provide evidence to support their claims. However, it’s worth noting that the specific grounds and requirements for contesting a will can vary depending on the jurisdiction.

Can a Will be Contested After Probate?

While it is generally more challenging to contest a will after probate, it is not entirely impossible. Several factors come into play when considering a post-probate challenge. Here are some key considerations:

  • Time Limitations: Most jurisdictions have strict deadlines for contesting a will, and these deadlines usually start from the date of probate. Once the deadline has passed, it becomes significantly more difficult to challenge a will successfully. However, certain exceptions might exist, such as if new evidence arises later that supports the contesting party’s claim. There is no time limit (in relation to a challenge against the legal validity of a Will) in the English and Welch jurisdiction; however the later the challenge the more difficult it is going to be simply because the passage of time may have lead to the dissipation of evidence and more importantly the estate assets.
  • Lack of Due Process (also known as “Lack of formalities”): If it can be proven that the probate process was flawed or that due process was not followed, it may provide grounds for a post-probate challenge. For example, the main ground here in the English and Welsh jurisdiction is invariably that the execution of the Will does not comply with s. 9 of the Wills Act 1837 (in that it was not properly witnessed).
  • Fraud or Forgery: If evidence comes to light suggesting that the will was forged or obtained through fraudulent means, it can be a strong basis for contesting the will even after probate. However, proving fraud or forgery requires substantial evidence and may necessitate the involvement of forensic experts.
  • Newly Discovered Wills: If a more recent will is discovered after probate, it may invalidate the previously probated will. The newly discovered will must comply with the legal requirements and must be properly presented to the court to initiate the probate process again.

Seek Legal Advice to Contest a Will

Contesting a will, whether before or after probate, is a complex legal matter. It is crucial to consult with an experienced solicitor who specialises in probate and will contests to understand the specific laws and procedures. They can guide you through the process, evaluate the merits of your case, and provide the best course of action based on your circumstances.

If you’d like to know if you’re in a position to successfully contest a will or would like to learn more about how a will can be contested after probate, fill out our free claim assessment and our experts at Will Claim will be in touch with you.