It is hard enough to deal with the loss of a loved one without having to think about the legalities of whether the Will they (ie; the testator) made, is valid or not.
There is a common misconception that if you leave a Will, everything that you own, will undoubtedly, pass to those that you want to leave your Estate to. Unfortunately, this is not correct.
In fact, a Will can be challenged on a number of grounds, which are set out below:-
1. Mental Capacity – “knowledge and approval”
A testator’s Will can be challenged on the grounds that they were not aware of what they were doing when they made their Will, which can take many forms, such that they were of unsound mind at the time of making it.
2. Invalid under the Wills Act 1837
The Will may be invalid on the basis that it does not comply with the law, for example it may not contain the testator’s signature, or is defective in some other way, such as being improperly witnessed.
3. Duress/Undue Influence
A Will can also be challenged on the grounds that someone has placed some form of pressure on the testator to leave their Estate to them. There are many instances which arouse suspicion, but it usually involves some kind of pressure from another for this to happen. Every case depends on its own facts, and this ground is probably the hardest ground to prove in such cases.
4. Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
Under the above law, certain categories of individuals can challenge a Will on the ground that they were being maintained by the testator prior to their unfortunate demise, or were not properly provided for in their Will. This can be challenged by the spouse of the testator, even ex spouse of the testator.
5. Replacement Wills
The person who died may have made a new Will (called the latest Will) which was inconsistent with an earlier Will they made.
6. Negligence Claims
Unfortunately, it does occasionally happen that not all Wills which are made, comply with the testator’s wishes. This may be on the basis that they have been poorly drafted by a solicitor/Will writer, and thus there are disappointed beneficiaries.
Here at Jarmans, we can help you to identify whether you have a Claim to make on the testator’s death, or discuss with you the merits of seeking to challenge it. Most cases do not go to trial – in fact, we actively encourage parties to attempt settlement, or undergo some other form of dispute resolution, to save the costs of going to trial.
We have various forms of agreement in place with clients to fund such Claims, that take the form of paid retainers; no win no fee agreements; and other types of agreement, to recover costs from the beneficiary after the event.
If you wish to find out more, please contact Rajinder Rai,
tel: 01795 472291 email: firstname.lastname@example.org