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How to contest a will – the importance of the Wills Act 1837

The Wills Act 1837 is 176 years old this year and yet it serves as the foundation for all wills made since, in England and Wales. Strangely it is often ignored in the context of Will dispute claims and yet it provides critical rules that govern whether a Will is actually valid. When should one consider the Wills Act 1837 in will dispute cases? Really it is important to always […]

CONTESTING A WILL – ANATOMY OF A TYPICAL WILL CLAIM

Here is a point by point summary of what is likely to happen in a typical will dispute where we are claiming against the validity of a will. I will provide details of a will dispute claim involving a claim for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. 1. Instructions received to contest the validity of a deceased’s will by her son on the grounds […]

Contesting a Will – suspicious pointers

We find that there are patterns of behaviour or similar facts which often mean there are likely to be genuine grounds for contesting a will. To try and assist, we have listed a number of them below:- 1. Even before death, there are often suspicious patterns of behaviour. 2. For instance, an unlikely friendship between the person making the will and a stranger. Following that difficulty in contacting the person […]

Contesting a will – a point by point guide to resolve a contested will or Inheritance Act dispute

1. You must be clear you have a right to claim; for instance there is no right to contest the validity of the Will if you have no interest in the estate once the Will you dispute is declared invalid. Further in a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, you must fall within the category of potential claimants set out in section 1, so that […]

Challenging a will – a point by point guide in will contest claims

1. You can roughly divide will contest claims into two distinct types. 2. The first type of claim is one where you dispute the validity of the will because for instance, the person making it was coerced, didn’t have mental capacity or it was not properly signed and witnessed (or even because it was forged!). 3. The second type is where you are a close relative, spouse or dependant and […]

Challenging a Will – tips for contesting

The death of a family member is in itself a sad event with a huge amount of emotional turmoil as one goes through the grieving process. At the time, considering the legal implications and understanding the ramifications of the last will and testament is often the last thought on your mind. If and when the will is contested there are even bigger headaches to come and turning to professional legal […]

Contesting a Will: Mediation or Trial, what is better in a Will Contest or Inheritance Claim?

In an ideal world this would happen: 1. Client instructs us to claim against a Will or estate 2. We accept those instructions and proceed to prepare the claim 3. We obtain all the evidence we need including a favourable report from a “friendly” expert 4. We issue Court proceedings and that case runs to a trial 5. We win at trial and recover all of our costs and everyone […]

DISPUTING A WILL – LACK OF KNOWLEDGE AND APPROVAL; IS IT UNDUE INFLUENCE IN DISGUISE

In two recent decisions, where it seems there may have been an argument the deceased was unduly influenced but with insufficient evidence to run that or more importantly a claim that he or she lacked legal testamentary capacity, the courts seem to have been keen to impute instead the deceased did not know and approve the Will contents. The cases in question are Topciapski (2013) Ch 20 March 2013 and […]

SUCCESSFULLY CHALLENGING A WILL – CAN A SUBSTANTIAL LIFETIME GIFT DEFEAT A LEGACY??

Yes it can. In law (equitable law that is) there is a rule that a parent would not intend to benefit his or her child twice, by making a substantial gift to the child and following the death of the parent, by leaving the same or an equivalent amount by Will. The Court presumes the parent would not intend to benefit one child twice at the expense of any other […]

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