Will claim Solicitors, specialist no win no fee will dispute and will contest Solicitors, provide some sample enquiries (anonymised) and our responses

Will dispute and Will contest enquiry – “my wife witnessed a Will where I am a beneficiary”
The enquiry

My step father died 4 years ago, probate was granted in November 2019. The house has just sold and monies are ready to be distributed. I was named in the will along with my half sister, but my wife was a witness, my half sister has only now contested that the will is not valid, do I have any rights to contest?

Our response
Thanks very much for your enquiry below. Section 15 of the Wills Act 1837 applies:

15Gifts to an attesting witness to be void.

If any person shall attest the execution of any will to whom or to whose wife or husband any beneficial devise, legacy, estate, interest, gift, or appointment, of or affecting any real or personal estate (other than and except charges and directions for the payment of any debt or debts), shall be thereby given or made, such devise, legacy, estate, interest, gift, or appointment shall, so far only as concerns such person attesting the execution of such will, or the wife or husband of such person, or any person claiming under such person or wife or husband, be utterly null and void, and such person so attesting shall be admitted as a witness to prove the execution of such will, or to prove the validity or invalidity thereof, notwithstanding such devise, legacy, estate, interest, gift, or appointment mentioned in such will.

Your gift is then void and falls into residue to be dealt with under the rules of intestacy. As you are not a blood relative, you don’t inherit.

If the Will was executed via Solicitors (?), you may have a claim in professional negligence against them. If not, then your only likely claim is under section 2 of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 by which it might be possible to secure you some limited benefit (a lot less than a substantial entitlement to an estate under a Will) if you have financial and health issues. Do you?
Our previous blog in relation to the duties of Solicitors applies here –

The following snippet from which is useful: 1. Not to make errors in relation to the execution or attestation of the Will (to ensure it was signed by the person making the Will in front of two witnesses who each then signed it as well)

In Ross v Caunters 1980 Ch 297 ( the Court upheld a finding in negligence against a firm of Solicitors for failing to ensure the correct attestation of a Will and awarded damages in favour of the disappointed beneficiary. In this instance, the Will had been witnessed by the spouse of a beneficiary. Section 15 of the Wills Act 1837 applied (

Will dispute and Will contest enquiry – “my father left his house to me but my mother is still living in the property”
The enquiry

I have inherited my fathers house worth £1m. He passed away this year. He left nothing for my 2 brothers but he left a letter of wishes stating why he has excluded them in his will. He left nothing for my mother from whom he was separated but they lived in the same house as she had no where else to live. My mother and brothers want to contest the will. It’s been 6.5 months since probate was granted. The house is undergoing sale at present. Do they have grounds to contest the will?

Our response
Thanks very much for your enquiry. As you have the Grant of Probate you can proceed to administer the estate. Your siblings and mother can only contest the legal validity of the Will if they have an interest in the outcome – either under a previous Will or if there is no previous Will under the rules of intestacy. If they can contest it then the grounds for doing so are quite limited:

  1. It wasn’t signed in front of two witnesses by the testator who also sign it – unlikely to be an issue as you have the Grant
  2. The most common other grounds are that the testator didn’t have sufficient mental capacity to make the Will and/or was subjected to undue influence (the latter is very difficult to prove of course).

Your mother and your siblings can bring an alternative claim for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. This is much more difficult for adult children and in general you can expect that such a claim will fail or yield a limited result. However, if your mother was married to your father when he passed away and was substantially supported by him for many years then unless she has her own substantial assets, she could have a considerable claim under this Act, mirroring in fact, what she might have achieved had they divorced at the point of death. However, a claim under the ’75 Act must be brought within 6 months of the date of the Grant of Probate, so they are out of time. It can be brought after the 6 month period has passed but only with permission of the Court.

Our previous blog (below) assists with this:

Disappointed spouses are favoured applicants under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and so can expect a substantial award.

If you consider any of these facts and matters are of interest, are likely to apply to you, or you would like to ask us for more information about our no win no fee arrangement, or you simply want us to assess your claim, then please do not hesitate to contact us for a confidential no strings chat.

We provide details about our no win no fee arrangements at