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Contesting A Will Solicitors
Contesting A Will Solicitors
Contesting A Will Solicitors

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Contesting A Will Help & Advice

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Challenge a Will

When a loved one or a family member passes away, coping with the loss can be emotionally draining. The Deceased may or may not have left a Will behind, specifying the distribution of his/her assets amongst family members and others associated with them. The last thing that you would want is a disagreement over the estate and property of the Deceased.  However, with the ever-increasing values of estates and in particular properties, there is an increase in the number of family members and other parties associated with the Deceased, bringing litigation over the terms of the Will.

A Will is a legal document which outlines how the person making the Will wants their estate, property, monetary savings and other possessions to be distributed after his/her death. A Will can also be referred to as the ‘Last Will and Testament’. The person drafting the Will is known as the ‘testator’. If the Deceased has left no Will dictating the distribution of his/her assets, the law of intestacy dictates the distribution according to a strict hierarchy of relatives.

A Will outlines how the deceased person wishes to leave his/her estate and therefore it is essential to make a Will. However, a Will can sometimes be upset where a person may seek to bring a challenge to the validity of a Will.

If you feel that there are concerns regarding the validity of the Will that has been left behind, then you can seek to challenge the Will. The procedure involved to challenge a Will can be lengthy and stressful, particularly if the case is very complicated. Tollers can simplify the whole process and guide you through. Seeking early legal advice with Tollers can save you money, time and relieve your anxiety. 


How To Contest A WillPlease contact us for completely free advice on 0333 414 9191 or email yourdispute@tollers.co.uk.

Call our Specialists FREE on 0333 414 9191
or Click Here to contact us.

Why Challenge a Will?

The estate is administered as per the terms of the Deceased’s Will or under the intestacy rules (in absence of a valid Will).  Whatever ground is relied upon to challenge the Will, any claim must be filed at Court within 12 years of the date of the Deceased’s death (where there is a Will), or within 12 years of the date of the Grant of Letters of Administration (where there is no Will). Tollers can provide step by step guidance right from the beginning until the end of the process.

Who Can Challenge a Will?

On the belief of having a ground to bring a success challenge, any person who has a beneficial interest or potential beneficial interest in the Deceased’s estate, under the Deceased’s previous Will or intestacy, will have legal standing to bring a challenge to the Will.

The Initial Steps to Challenge a Will

Challenging a Will can be a complex and demanding task in terms of time and money. It is therefore highly recommended that effective legal advice should be taken from Tollers from the very start. Initiating a claim to challenge a Willwithout effective legal advice and little or no legal knowledge of the procedures to be followed, can prove to be very expensive and time consuming.

Despite having potential financial benefits to successful Claimant’s, challenging a Will can take a toll emotionally on everyone concerned, as it may involve disputes with other family members, friends and beneficiaries over the estate and property of the Deceased. It is advisable to understand fully your legal stance and confirm that you have a valid ground and a strong merits in achieving a successful outcome when making the decision to challenge a Will.

Thus, seeking legal advice and explaining your situation to your solicitor is of utmost importance. This will establish how strong your claim is and to what extent it can be pursued. Tollers provide you with specialist contentious probate solicitors to guide you through the whole process of challenging a Will.


How To Contest A WillPlease contact us for completely free advice on 0333 414 9191 or email yourdispute@tollers.co.uk.

Call our Specialists FREE on 0333 414 9191
or Click Here to contact us.

Foundation to Challenge a Will

In order to challenge a Will, there needs to be evidence to support one of the grounds listed below upon which to formulate a valid claim. The grounds to consider are as follows:-

Undue Influence

In order to prove undue influence, it is necessary to produce independent evidence to show that the deceased was forced physically or mentally against their Will to make a Will that they did not wish to be making. Mere persuasion is not enough and in the absence of independent evidence it is extremely difficult to prove.  Very few cases succeed on this ground. This is especially the case if the deceased gave independent instructions alone to a solicitor.

Linked to undue influence, is fraudulent calumny, which involves a situation where someone has poisoned the Deceased’s mind against a natural beneficiary of their Estate, by casting dishonest aspersions against that beneficiary, either knowing the aspersions to be untrue, or not caring whether they are true or false.  The same level of proof as above applies and such cases are extremely difficult to pursue successfully.  The ultimate decision of determining whether undue influence was used or not lies with the Court.

Lack of Testamentary Capacity

The test for testamentary capacity is that set out in the case of Banks v Goodfellows. The test for the purposes of making a Will, is that the Deceased must have understood at the time of giving instructions for his new Will:-

a)       the nature of the act,

b)      the claims they ought to consider and

c)       the extent of the property they had to dispose of.

d)      In addition, they must not have been subject to any disorder of the mind that should poison their affections, pervert their sense of right, or prevent the exercise of their natural faculties. In other words, they must not have been suffering from any insane delusion.

Ultimately, the Deceased’s testamentary capacity would have to be proven by obtaining their medical notes and records and an independent medical expert’s report. However, a Court will give weight to an experienced legal professional who formed their own independent judgment at the relevant time.

It is likely that the Deceased’s medical notes and records would have to be obtained, followed by an independent medical experts report, by an expert in psycho-geriatric medicine.  

Lack of Knowledge and Approval

The testator may have possessed testamentary capacity but if they did not know they had made a Will, or were unable to approve that its contents reflected their wishes, the Will could be challenged based upon lack of knowledge and approval. 


How To Contest A WillPlease contact us for completely free advice on 0333 414 9191 or email yourdispute@tollers.co.uk.

Call our Specialists FREE on 0333 414 9191
or Click Here to contact us.

Invalid Execution

If the Will is not correctly executed, the Will is invalid. For a Will to be valid it must comply with the following:

(a)     it is in writing, and signed by the testator, or by some other person in his presence and by his direction; and

(b)     it appears that the testator intended by his signature to give effect to the will; and

(c)     the signature is made or acknowledged by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time; and

(d)     each witness either—

(i)     attests and signs the will; or

(ii)     acknowledges his signature,

in the presence of the testator (but not necessarily in the presence of any other witness).

Fraudulent and Forged Wills

Where you are able to prove that the signature of the Deceased and/or either of the witnesses has been forged, or if you are suspicious of fraud taking place. A Will is considered to be forged if it was made without the knowledge or consent of the deceased person. However, to prove fraud successfully, it will inevitably involve witness evidence and forensic examination by way of a handwriting experts report.

If the expert finds discrepancies between the signature in the Will and the actual signature of the deceased person then it could prove a case of Will fraud. Also, proving that the contents of the Will contradict the actual wishes of the deceased person can also be counted as valuable evidence.

Whilst fraud is also a criminal offence, the fraudster might still receive a proportion of the estate under the terms of any previous Will or intestacy, upon a successful Will challenge.


How To Contest A WillPlease contact us for completely free advice on 0333 414 9191 or email yourdispute@tollers.co.uk.

Call our Specialists FREE on 0333 414 9191
or Click Here to contact us.

The Will itself is valid but you are not happy with the provisions still made within It. Can it be challenged in any other way?

Yes, there may be other claims to consider.

Proprietary Estoppel

If the deceased person gave assurances during their lifetime that certain land or property would be inherited by you upon their death and you relied upon that promise to your detriment.  If that promise was then not honoured by the Deceased in their final Will, then a claim in Proprietary Estoppel legal can be considered as an alternative challenge.

Firstly, as a claimant it is important that you demonstrate:-

  • An assurance; or
  • A reliance; or
  • A change of position

Once equity has been established in a case of Proprietary Estoppel then the claimant can be eligible for remedial relief. However, it must be noted that the mere existence of equity is not sufficient to determine appropriate remedial relief for the claimant. The court has to decide what specific remedy should be awarded to the claimant once equity has been established. The court has the discretion to choose from a range of remedies to award to the claimant.

The Inheritance Act (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975

If you have been eliminated out of a Will altogether, or the provision made for you under the Will is inadequate to meet your needs, you may fall within the class of persons who may qualify to bring a challenge under the Inheritance Act.

The Inheritance Act allows certain people to bring a claim where inadequate financial provision has been made for them (whether or not for their maintenance). People falling under one of the following categories may be eligible to make a claim:

  • The wife, husband or civil partner of the recently deceased person.
  • The ex-wife, husband or civil partner of the deceased person who are yet to remarry or form another civil relationship.
  • Those cohabiting i.e. someone who lived with the now deceased person for a minimum period of two years immediately before their death as if they were man and wife.
  • A child of the recently deceased person.
  • A person who was treated as a child of the recently deceased person.
  • Someone who was being financially supported by the recently deceased person.

To bring a claim via the Inheritance Act, it is important for the claimant to prove that they have not been adequately provided and that therefore the provision made (or lack thereof) is unreasonable. There is also a strict time limit to bring such a claim. A claim must be issued at Court within six months from the date of the grant of probate.

Challenging executors

Even if you have no issues with the contents of the Will, but rather how the Estate is being administered by the executor or administrator tasked with the responsibility of administering the Estate, then it is possible to still bring a claim. An Executor should always act in the best interests of beneficiaries and should not in any way put Estate or Trusts assets at risk. Tollers advise individuals on the following range of disputes:

  • Issues regarding how the Estate is being administered
  • Claims by or against Estate
  • Any doubts regarding the Estate assets
  • Any disputes between executors/beneficiaries/trustees
  • Removing an executor/trustee
  • Variation of Wills/trusts


How To Contest A WillPlease contact us for completely free advice on 0333 414 9191 or email yourdispute@tollers.co.uk.

Call our Specialists FREE on 0333 414 9191
or Click Here to contact us.

Talk to Tollers

With Tollers, you can be assured of expert advice with every step. Tollers specialist contentious probate lawyers will help you through what can be a legally complex area. We act regularly for Executors, Trustees, and disappointed family members in a variety of contested probate cases. Our office locations are Milton Keynes, Kettering, Corby, Stevenage, Kempston, Northampton, Oakham & Uppingham.

Talk to Tollers today!


How To Contest A WillPlease contact us for completely free advice on 0333 414 9191 or email yourdispute@tollers.co.uk.

Tiffany qualified at Tollers in September 2010 and is currently an Senior Associate Solicitor in the contesting a Will team. Tiffany specialises in contesting a Will and financial abuse of the elderly/vulnerable. As of October 2015 Tiffany became a Full Member of The Association of Contentious Trust... Read More

Tiffany Wiggett / Senior Associate Solicitor - Contesting a Will
t   01604 258577

Related Service Area: Dispute ResolutionAreas of Specialism: Contentious Probate – challenging Wills, inheritance claims and claims by and upon an Estate.Office based at: CorbyTom qualified with Tollers in 1984 and joined the partnership in 1987.  He is a Senior Partner and Head of Dispute... Read More

Tom Kings / Senior Partner
t   01604 258127
m   07785 542593

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