Who Can Contest A Will?
Given that wills are mainly associated with someone’s passing, it is only natural that it will be a difficult time for many people, with a wide range of emotions being experienced. A lot of the time, many people are not focussed on a will, dealing with the issues of losing someone that they love as opposed to worrying too much about how the assets will be divided.
However, there are times when people will wish to contest a will, and the following people are all able to contest a will.
Family members – Blood Line relatives
If a will is being contested, it is likely that it will be contested by a family member. When a will is being contested in this manner, Intestacy Rules are usually raised and argued. When someone “dies intestate”, it means that they have passed away without a will stating how their estate should be distributed.
There are set rules to distribute a person’s estate with guidelines and limitations in place for:
- Married couples and civil partners
- Adopted children and children from other relationships
- Grandchildren / Great-Grandchildren
- Other relatives
One thing that is extremely important, especially with respect to the Inheritance Act, is being a blood line family member. If there are no surviving blood line relatives, the estate is passed on to the crown.
A dependant of the deceased
Someone that was financially dependent on the deceased, without being a blood line relative, is in a position to contest a will with respect to the Inheritance Act.
Someone who stands to benefit from the will
Just because someone has been listed as a beneficiary of a will doesn’t necessarily mean that they will receive what they are due. It may be that a failure on behalf of the executors negatively impacts on a person receiving what they are owed and in this case, it is permissible for the beneficiary to claim against the executor’s estate.
A debt claim
Someone who is owed money from the estate is allowed to make a claim for the money that they are owed.
Someone that has been promised something by the deceased
In recent times, there has been an acceptance by the Courts to recognise claims where it can be shown that an assurance or promise was made to the claimant by the deceased. If the claimant was relying on that promise being upheld, and can show that they did so to their own detriment, it is likely that courts will allow for the will to be contested in this manner.
Courts are generally looking for three stands in this sort of claim:
- Evidence of the assurance or promise made by the deceased
- Reliance on the promise
- A loss must have been suffered by the claimant due to their reliance of the promise
When all three of these aspects are in place, there is a likelihood that the court will allow a claim to be made on a will or estate.
It should be noted that there are time limits associated with making a claim on a will. Anyone making a claim for maintenance has a period of 6 months from the grant of probate to make a claim. Any beneficiary making a claim against the estate has a period of 12 years from the date of passing.