Challenging a Will

Having a valid Will in place is the only way of ensuring that an individual’s wishes will be carried out exactly as they intend after their death. However, there are a numerous reasons why disappointed beneficiaries may wish to challenge a Will– and a number of methods of doing so.

The three of the most common avenues when it comes to contesting a Will in the UK are:

  • Challenging a Will that has been prepared without adhering to the proper formalities

A valid Will needs to be signed in the presence of two witnesses to adhere to the strict requirements of Section 9 of the Wills Act 1837. Any errors during the signing process could leave an otherwise valid Will vulnerable to challenge, and the Will could be overturned by a Court under these circumstances. For this reason, an invalidly-executed Will may provide a simple means of successfully contesting a Will.

  • Contesting a Will over a lack of ‘testamentary capacity’ or ‘want of knowledge and approval’

There may be grounds to contest a Will due to ‘incapacity’ or ‘want of knowledge and approval’. Someone contesting the Will could assert that the deceased did not know or approve of the content of a Will at the point it was signed, possibly because there was no evidence of it being read over or even recognised as a Will, or that deceased was suffering from such confusion that he or she was not fully aware of the true extent of the estate, or did not fully understand exactly who would or should benefit under the Will, at this point.

  • Challenging a Will because it was drafted under undue influence

Another way of challenging a Will is to assert that it was signed by the deceased under undue influence – i.e. the person was coerced into drafting the document in a certain way under threat of unpalatable consequences, often requiring threats of actual physical violence or by preying on the fears of the elderly.

These are just three examples of how disappointed beneficiaries may seek to overturn a Will and defeat the deceased’s apparent wishes. Not all challenges are just and not all defences are truthful. What is clear is that making or accepting a Will that does not appear to be right without specialist advice is foolish and a false economy.

Carter Lemon Camerons LLP Solicitors is a City law firm which provides Wills and probate services with a personal touch to its clients – that go beyond the simple drafting of documents. Unlike many City practices we are happy to act in smaller private legal matters, bringing the same care and consideration as we do to large commercial matters. If you require advice on making, defending or contesting Wills, please contact Neil Acheson-Gray or Ian West.