Who Can Bring a Claim Against the Legal Validity of a Will
Will claim Solicitors, specialist no win no fee will dispute and will contest Solicitors, discuss who it is who can bring claims against the legal validity of a Will
Who is it who can bring claims against the legal validity of a Will?
It seems strange to deal with this question but it is often an issue. We receive quite a large number of enquiries from “interested persons” such as neighbours querying the likely validity of a Will where the person they are concerned about has been “manipulated”.
What usually lies at the heart of this is a genuine concern that an elderly individual has been taken advantage of and executed or allegedly executed a Will which ordinarily they wouldn’t have. Often there is concern that that person had dementia and didn’t or couldn’t fully understand what he/she was doing. We deal with these issues in previous blogs – for instance:
So who can challenge the legal validity of a Will?
The Civil Procedure Rules at CPR 57.7 and in the Practice Direction provide a very strong hint:
Contents of statements of case
(1) The claim form must contain a statement of the nature of the interest of the claimant and of each defendant in the estate.
(2) If a party disputes another party’s interest in the estate he must state this in his statement of case and set out his reasons.
In giving case management directions in a probate claim the court will give consideration to the questions –
(1) whether any person who may be affected by the claim and who is not joined as a party should be joined as a party or given notice of the claim, whether under rule 19.8A or otherwise; and
(2) whether to make a representation order under rule 19.6 or rule 19.7.
In general then one must have an interest in the estate to bring a claim. This means that the “concerned neighbour” is not going to have an interest unless he/she was a beneficiary under what is alleged to be a previous valid Will or by the rules of intestacy (unlikely then unless they are a near relative).
Randall v Randall 2014 EWHC 3134 (Ch)
The question of who can bring a claim against the legal validity of a Will was aired in detail in this case:
Reference to various issues arising in relation to this question in Will dispute and Will contest claims are made in Randall above to include some discussion on whether a Claimant to a potential claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 can bring such a claim in relation to which there are two conflicting decisions (one saying yes and another no). The latter is probably not an issue now since of course the ability to bring a claim under the ’75 Inheritance Act is no longer dependent on there being a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.
The conclusion of the Deputy Master in Randall was that only the following could bring (or defend) a claim against the legal validity of a Will:
- Those who have or who might be entitled to take a Grant of Representation;
- Those who have or who might be entitled to a share of the estate.
For reference, paragraphs 91 and 92 of this decision are copied and pasted below:
In my judgment, on a proper analysis of the authorities, whether a person has an interest in the estate is to be determined by reference to the touchstones of: (1) whether they are personal representatives, (2) the grant of representation, and (3) the entitlement to a distribution of the estate. The court is concerned with identifying ‘an interest in the estate’, and not whether someone is ‘interested’ in the estate. Just as a creditor of an estate, while interested in the estate, has no interest in the estate, so in my judgment a creditor of a beneficiary of the estate has no interest in the estate, though he is possibly interested in the estate.
- While it is not necessary for my decision, in my judgment to construe an ‘interest in the estate’ to include a claim by a creditor of a beneficiary of an estate will widen the gateway to an extent that would render the requirement of little if any value.
A creditor of the estate or of a beneficiary of the estate is not deemed to have sufficient interest to bring a Will dispute or Will contest claim.
Acting on behalf of a Will Executor
It is possible then it seems to act for a Will Executor in relation to a dispute over the legal validity of a Will but perhaps not desirable under a no win no fee arrangement.
The more “neutral” interest of a Will Executor might increase the risk that he/she is willing to take to prove the legal validity of a Will or contest the legal validity of a Will. Accordingly, he/she might not be a desirable client under a no win no fee arrangement where in effect the Solicitor is taking on the risk.
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 https://www.willclaim.com/no-win-no-fee/.