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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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Call our Specialists FREE on 0333 414 9191
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How to Contest a Will

The death of a family member can be an extremely stressful time in an individual’s life. In England and Wales, Testators are meant to have complete testamentary freedom to leave their property, money and assets to whoever they choose, provided the Will is a valid Will. However, sometimes situations arise where the Will does not provide adequately for inheritors, or the Will may be proved to be valid for various other reasons to do with the execution of the Will and circumstances surrounding the deceased person.

If you are placed in the difficult position where you need to contest a Will, it is highly advisable that you do not face this complex legal situation alone. Seeking legal advice can be extremely beneficial to an individual because it significantly reduces the amount of pressure, and a legal advisor can guide you through the process in a step by step, easy way. 


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.

Testator Inadequacy

The grounds for contesting a Will are limited and are as follows:

Lack of Testamentary Capacity

A person must be of sound mind to lawfully execute a valid Will.  

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:-

a)       the Deceased must have understood at the time of giving instructions for their new Will;

b)      the nature of the act;

c)       the claims they ought to consider;

d)      the extent of the property they had to dispose of;

e)      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.

Lack of Knowledge and Approval

When making their Will the testator must be aware of the Will contents and approve its terms.

If you suspect the testator was not of sound mind at the time they made their Will, it is likely that they could be said also to lack knowledge and approval. Further, where there are suspicious circumstances, for example, if the person who helped draft the Will also stands to benefit from a substantial gift in the Will, in such instances, it may be presumed that the Deceased did not know and approve the Will contents, unless evidence can be adduced to the contrary.

Tollers can guide you through the process of how to contest a Will if the testator is believed to have lacked knowledge and approval. Contact our team of lawyers at Tollers to find out more.

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. 

If you believe that someone has executed a Will as a result of undue influence, then contact our team of specialists at Tollers to proceed with your case, guiding you through how to contest 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.

Incorrect Execution of the Will

In order for a Will to be correctly executed under S.9 Wills Act 1837, it must meet the following requirements:

  • The Will must be in writing.
  • It must be signed by the testator or by somebody else in the presence of the testator after being directed to do so by the testator.
  • It must appear that the testator intended to give effect to the Will by their signature.
  • The testator’s signature should be made in the presence of two witnesses.
  • Each witness is required to either sign the Will and attest it, or acknowledge their signature in the presence of the testator. However, it is not necessary to do so in the presence of other witnesses.

Additionally, there are strict rules as to who can or cannot witness 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.

How to prevent a Grant of Probate being issued where there are real concerns that the Deceased’s Will may be invalid

Probate is a legal process that occurs after a person dies. It includes:

  • Proving in the Probate Registry that the Will left behind by the deceased is valid (applying for probate).
  • Identifying and valuing all the deceased’s assets and liabilities
  • Paying off all outstanding debts.
  • Distribution the assets correctly in accordance with the Will.

Where you have grave concerns regarding the validity of the Deceased’s Will, based on one of the grounds listed above, then you may want to consider registering a Caveat at the Probate Registry for which the Probate Registry will charge a fee of £20, for six months. This will prevent a Grant of Probate being issued in the deceased's Estate, thereby preventing the Executor of the Estate from administering and distributing the Deceased’s Estate. Such a step would grant you in the interim the time to investigate the merits of your claim further, until such time as the caveat expires, or a Warning Off Notice is served upon you. 

A Caveat should only be registered where you have a strong reason to believe that the Will is invalid for one reason or another and that you would benefit otherwise under a previous Will or intestacy.   

Can you still contest a Will after probate has been granted?

Although there are many reasons why it is more advantageous to contest a Will before probate, it is still possible to contest a Will after probate.

If you delay bringing a claim for a contested Will, your case may be harder to pursue, or the assets more difficult to recover. The legal costs prior to the issue of court proceedings, are significantly less than after court proceedings are issued.

Tollers specialist probate solicitors Tom Kings and Tiffany Wiggett are official members of the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS). This means that they are officially recognised as specialists in the niche area of law, contesting probate.


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.

What Are the Time Limits to Contest a Will?

Time limits for contested probate cases vary depending upon the nature of the claim that is being brought. The following time limits ought to be borne in mind:

  • If the testator died leaving a Will, you have 12 years from the date of death, to bring a claim against the Estate, to include disputing the validity of the Will.
  • If the testator died without having made a Will, you have 12 years from the date that the Letters of Administration are granted, to bring a claim against the Estate.
  • If there is an allegation of fraud in respect of the drafting or execution of the Will then there is no time limit in such cases.
  • Inheritance Act claims are entirely separate to challenging the validity of a Will and the different time limits for bringing such claims are often confused. An Inheritance Act claim is a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, for maintenance from a Deceased’s Estate. In such claims, you only have 6 months from the date which the Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration are issued, to bring such a claim. If 6 months have passed, you will require the permission of the Court before bringing such a claim. 


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.

Rules Of Intestacy

The rules of intestacy states that a strict order should be followed of who should benefit from the estate of a deceased person where there is no Will. This order is as follows:

  • Spouse or civil partner
  • Children (or their remoter issue, i.e. grandchildren/great grandchildren)
  • Parents
  • Brothers and sisters (or half siblings)
  • grandparents
  • Uncles and aunts. A cousin can inherit instead if the uncle or aunt who would have inherited died before the intestate person
  • Half-uncles and half-aunts. A half-cousin can inherit instead if the half-uncle or half-aunt who would have inherited died before the intestate person.

This order of importance will also determine who acts as the administrator of the estate.

If there are surviving children, grandchildren or great grandchildren of the person who died and the estate is valued at more than £250,000, any surviving spouse/civil partner will inherit:

  • all the personal property and belongings of the person who has died, and
  • the first £250,000 of the estate, and
  • half of the remaining estate.

If there are no surviving children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren, the spouse/civil partner will inherit:

  • all the personal property and belongings of the person who has died and
  • the whole of the estate with interest from the date of death.

If there are no surviving relatives then the estate will go to the crown. This situation is known as ‘Bona Vacantia’.

The following people are not included as beneficiaries in the rules of intestacy:

  • Cohabitants or unmarried partners
  • Ex-spouses or civil partners
  • Step-parents or stepchildren
  • Close friends
  • Carers


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.

Lack of Will

If a person has died without leaving a valid Will, then their estate will be administered in accordance with the intestacy rules set down by statute.  Since almost two-thirds of the population die without leaving a Will, intestacy is a pretty common occurrence. In such circumstances there is no Will to contest. However there may be other claims to consider against the Estate in those circumstances, such as an Inheritance Act claim.

Inheritance Act Claim

The Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 allows certain people to bring a claim for maintenance against the Deceased’s estate, where they have not been adequately provided for in the original Will or under intestacy. 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.
  • Co-habitees i.e. someone who lived with the now deceased person for a minimum period of two years before their death as husband 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.

The factors that a court will give consideration to when determining whether or not reasonable financial provision has been made by the Deceased for the applicant, include the following:

  • The needs of the applicant and the financial resources available to fulfil those needs.
  • The needs of any other applicant and their financial resources.
  • The needs of all the beneficiaries as well as their financial resources.
  • The obligations and duties of the deceased person towards the applicant and any named beneficiary.
  • Any matters with regards to conduct that the court might consider relevant to the claim.
  • The size and extent of the estate belonging to the deceased person.
  • Any disability, either physical or mental, suffered by the applicant or any other interested party.

Maintenance can be awarded to the applicant in a variety of forms and is at the discretion of the Court. Such provision can include a lump sum payment or ongoing payment of maintenance. 


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.

Estate Administration Claim

The individuals appointed under the Deceased’s Will, or by reason of intestacy to deal with a deceased person’s estate after death, are known as executors (or Administrators where there is no Will). Executors are tasked with the responsibility of distributing the estate as per the terms specified in the Will, or intestacy rules where there is no Will. Their responsibilities include:

  •  Collecting and safeguarding all the assets of the estate.
  • If the deceased person has any outstanding debts, they will be responsible for settling those debts.
  • Distributing the net estate to the named beneficiaries under any Will or intestacy rules.

If the executor fails to fulfil any of the above responsibilities, it is possible to bring a claim against the Estate for breach of trust. Contact our team of lawyers at Tollers to know more.

Proprietary Estoppel Claim

 Where promises or assurances are made by the Deceased to you during lifetime, which you relied upon to your detriment and which were then not fulfilled by the Deceased upon their death, then you may have a claim in equity for proprietary estoppel. This is a discretionary remedy and therefore does not guarantee that you will be awarded exactly what was originally promised, but what a Courts consider as reasonable, given the level of detriment you suffered as a result of your reliance upon the Deceased’s promise. 


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 should you Choose Tollers to Contest a Will?   

Vast Resources and Specialist Lawyers

Bringing a claim against a Deceased persons Estate is a process that usually involves collating a large amount of evidence and negotiating skills. Vast resources are needed which can be easily provided by Tollers.  

No Win No Fee

Funding can be an issue which deters many people from seeking legal advice. We offer a range of different funding options and for each matter we will consider and discuss the possibility of insurance backed litigation as well as ‘No Win, No Fee’.

We will give you a realistic estimate of the costs involved in any matter prior to undertaking work.


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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