A statutory will is a lifesaver for those who do not have capacity to make a will, but they are not always immune from challenge

Challenging a Statutory Will – ‘best interests’ count

In the recent case of ADS v DSM (2017 EWCOP 8) a Statutory Will drawn up by the Court of Protection was overturned following a challenge by one of the beneficiaries. In most cases, a statutory will is unlikely to be challenged. Despite that general rule, in ADS v DSM, one of the sons of the incapacitated testator did successfully challenge his mother’s statutory will because of failures in the […]

Don't get stuck in checkmate when you challenge a will validity - consider these 5 points before challenging a will

Challenging will validity – 5 points to consider

Taking legal action that results in challenging will validity is a big step. There are a number of factors to consider before deciding what to do. What happens if the will is declared invalid? This is probably the most important consideration. If the challenge to will validity is successful and the will you are concerned about is declared invalid, the estate of the deceased will then be distributed according to […]

how long will it take to resolve a will dispute

How long does it take to resolve a will dispute?

How long does it take to resolve a will dispute? You may have read about the long-running case of Ilot v Mitson which involved a dispute about a will in which a woman left her estate to animal charities rather than to her estranged daughter. The legal process took over 10 years, from the first court decision, to the final decision earlier in 2017 from the Supreme Court. While it’s […]

As a surviving spouse, does your claim under the Inheritance Act survive if you then die?

Testing whether Inheritance Act Claims die with the Claimant

In this blog we look at the situation of claims under the Inheritance Act and whether the right to claim continues if the Claimant dies during proceedings. Some legal actions survive even when a claimant has died – so for example in a personal injury claim, the personal representatives of an injured Claimant can continue to pursue the claim after the Claimant has died. Equally in these cases, a Claimant […]

Can pills or medication affect your testamentary capacity?

Testamentary capacity and the effects of medication

In the recent case of White v Philips [2017] EWHC 386 (Ch), the High Court had to consider the effects of medication on a Testator’s testamentary capacity As we’ve mentioned before, one of the grounds for challenging a will is to argue that the Testator, the person making the will, did not have the necessary capacity to do so. In many cases, the challenge will be made in respect of […]

A cautious thumbs up for medical evidence in cases involving testamentary capacity and lack of knowledge and approval

Testamentary Capacity & Medical Evidence

While medical evidence is an important factor in cases where the Testator’s capacity to make a will is disputed, there are other matters to be considered. When a will appears to be manifestly unfair, leaving out a child for no apparent reason, it must raise questions about the state of mind of the Testator. This will inevitably lead to a look at available medical evidence, and potentially expert medical evidence […]

Do you think you are considering a suspicious will? Is there a question mark over some aspect of it?

How to spot a suspicious will

You may already be worried about the circumstances in which a relative or loved one drew up a will – we looked at these in an earlier blog, Spotting Suspicious Behaviour Surrounding a Will . On the other hand, you may not have had any cause for concern until you have seen the will, after the Testator has died. If, at this point, you are disappointed by the contents of the […]

a stethoscope - how will medical evidence help you in a will dispute?

Medical Evidence in a Will Dispute

Where someone is seeking to challenge a will, they may be looking to argue that the person who made the will (the Testator) did not have ‘capacity’ to do so. Another possibility is that they have been subject to ‘undue influence’ at the time they made the will. In all these circumstances, medical evidence may be important. In this blog, we look at the role of medical evidence in a […]

Whether you use a vintage fountain pen or note, a larke v Nugus statement will be useful evidence in a will dispute

Evidence to challenge a will: a Larke v Nugus Statement

The evidence needed to challenge a will successfully can be difficult to obtain – not least because by definition, the person who made the will is deceased. However, if a solicitor was involved in drawing up the will that you now intend to challenge, their evidence may be important. If a solicitor did draw up the will you think is invalid, obtaining a ‘Larke v Nugus’ statement will be part […]

A country cottage may not have been left to you but you may still be able to claim maintenance from a loved one's estate

Maintained by the deceased – Inheritance Act claims

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 allows claims for ‘maintenance’ from a deceased’s estate by “a person who immediately before the death of the deceased was being maintained either wholly or partly by the deceased” (Section 1(1)(e)). In the case of Kenneth Paul King v The Chiltern Dog Rescue, Redwings Horse Sanctuary [2015] EWCA Civ 581, the Court of Appeal had to review the situation where the […]

making a gift on your deathbed is not as straightforward as it might seem

Challenging Deathbed Gifts

The deathbed gift – known as donatio mortis causa (or ‘a gift given in anticipation of death’) is an aspect of English Law that comes directly from our Roman legal heritage. It covers the situation where someone (the Donor) makes a gift ‘on their deathbed’ – of money or of property – to take effect only on their death. As the courts have recognised,  deathbed gifts are open to abuse […]

if, in the sunset of your life, you try to make a deathbed gift, it may be challenged

The strict approach to the deathbed gift

‘Deathbed gifts’ are one of the limited exceptions to the general principle that on death, the property of the deceased should be disposed of according to either a written will, or the rules on intestacy. The courts have long recognised that the concept of the ‘deathbed gift’ is open to abuse. The case of Kenneth Paul King v The Chiltern Dog Rescue, Redwings Horse Sanctuary illustrates the strict approach that […]

A fountain pen to sign and execute a will

Executing a will – what not to do!

As specialists handling will dispute and contentious probate claims, we have a lot of experience of dealing with the mistakes that were made when a will was drawn up. One of the grounds for challenging the validity of a will is that it was not properly executed – and if this is the case, and the will is overturned, people who were genuinely intended to benefit from a will may […]

The Royal Courts of Justice

How easy is it to contest a will successfully?

If you’re considering legal action to contest a will, the chances are you will be trying to work out which firm of solicitors to use to represent you. And no doubt, one of the big questions you want answered is how easy is it to contest a will – and win? It’s a worthwhile question to ask. Legal action of any kind can be stressful and exhausting; it can also […]

sometimes you get the feeling that someone is acting suspiciously in relation to a will

Spotting suspicious behaviour surrounding a will

We’ve been handling will disputes for many years, and have found that there are a number of common themes which raise suspicions that all is not as it should be with the will concerned. Challenging a will is a big decision to take, especially in the sad circumstances where a loved one has died. You may also be unsure if you are right to be taking this step – you […]

Keeping your will up to date is important to make sure it reflects your personal circumstances at the time

Martin v Williams – when a will hasn’t been updated

The High Court has recently considered a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975 in circumstances where the will left everything to the Testator’s wife, from whom he had been separated for many years, and nothing to his long term partner. We look at Martin v Williams [2017] EHWC 491 (Ch) . The Facts At the time of his death in 2012, Mr Martin had been separated from his wife, Maureen Martin, […]

Know the golden rule in relation to testamentary capacity to avoid your will being challenged

Testamentary capacity and the Golden Rule

We look at ‘the golden rule’ in relation to will disputes – what it is, and why it is important If you are worried that a close relative was unwell when they made their will, and did not really know or understand what they were doing, you may be considering challenging the will on the grounds of ‘testamentary capacity’. If this is the case, you will need to take a […]

The Supreme Court has upheld the principle of testamentary freedom and so if someone wishes to leave their estate to charity, such as in the case of Ilott v Mitson, adult children will find it hard to succeed under the Inheritance Act 1975

Gifts to charity – can they be challenged?

It’s not often that legal disputes over the contents of a will make the front pages – but a long running saga that has recently been concluded in the Supreme Court relating to gifts made to charity in a will at the expense of surviving children, has done just that. Challenging a will under the Inheritance Act 1975 As we’ve mentioned before, under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) […]

A barrister's wig

Why do I need a barrister to advise on my will dispute?

Once you’ve engaged a solicitor to represent you in a will dispute, you may be surprised when he or she recommends using a barrister. It won’t always be necessary to use a barrister, but there are plenty of situations that arise when challenging a will (or defending a challenge to a will), when a barrister will provide vital advice both on legal matters and on strategy. In this blog we […]

legal texts may be of use in your will dispute. If you reach court, a judge will be involved to decide what the outcome should be.

Who will be involved in a will dispute?

The legal system can be confusing if you haven’t had any experience of it before you needed to challenge a will. Here we look at the people who will be involved and the roles they play in your will dispute. If you find yourself in the position where you feel you must take steps to challenge a will -either because you think the will is invalid, or because you feel […]