Reasons To Challenge A Will

What Reasons In Practice Might Justify A Challenge To A Will?

There are no hard and fast rules and all cases are different.  Testators are entitled to make whatever Will they wish to make and they have no legal obligation to benefit family members.  Nevertheless if a Will is unusual on its face in that its contents come as something of a surprise because family members who might have been expected to have been included in the Will are left out this is often a starting point for investigation.

Possible causes of concern

  1. The Will does not benefit the people that the testator indicated  he or she would benefit when speaking about their testamentary intentions during their lifetime.
  2. The Will was changed just before the person making it died.
  3. The Will was hand written.
  4. There were unknown witnesses to the Will.
  5. Solicitors were not involved in the making of the Will.
  6. Dependents were excluded.
  7. The Will favours one sibling over another.
  8. The Will favours a person, perhaps not a relative who only became known to the deceased relatively shortly before the deceased's death.

None of the above factors determine the issue one way or the other in themselves but they are causes for concern and a starting point for enquiries.

Challenging a will 

Very often the starting point of these enquiries is to write to the solicitor who prepared the Will to establish the circumstances in which the instructions for the Will were given, precisely what those instructions were and whether or not there is any explanation given for an unusual Will.

Most solicitors who deal with the drafting of Wills adhere to Law Society guidelines by which they should, if requested, provide what is known as a Larke v Nugus statement setting out information regarding the circumstances in which a Will is issued.

A Larke v Nugus statement is prepared by the solicitor who originally prepared the disputed Will and witnessed its execution and Larke v Nugus requests allow you to obtain evidence against the validity of a Will on the grounds of lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, want of knowledge of approval or forgery.

The starting position is that only personal representatives are entitled to information regarding the deceased's Will prior to the obtaining of a grant of probate however this does not apply where a request for information is made to the solicitor who prepared or witnessed the execution of the Will where there is a possible dispute in relation to that Will. 

The Larke v Nugus request can include a request for various specific pieces of information relating to the signing of the Will and also a request for copies of documents from the solicitor's file such as contemporaneous notes of meetings held and instructions given.

This can then be an important starting point for investigations generally regarding the validity of a will.

Contact Us

If you believe you have grounds to contest a will, then contact us today on 0800 083 0815 or fill in the contact form at the side of the page.

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