Few things are as perplexing as a will that fails to meet expectations. Whether you felt you were promised something very specific, or simply as though your relationship mattered enough to the testator to include your name somewhere, the inability to get any answers to your questions is an incredibly sobering feeling.
Not to mention, you’ve got a tremendous amount of grief to deal with – let alone confusion over the reality of your relationship with the person you’re grieving.
The good news is that this doesn’t necessarily need to represent a full stop on your inheritance. There are solicitors that specialise in will disputes out there, ready to fight on behalf of loved ones who feel that some part of a will – or a will in its entirety – isn’t right.
This is a long and complex process, but it’s worth it for those who know something doesn’t add up. Still, to begin, you’ll need a reason for contesting a will – legal grounding that justifies your decision to delay grant of probate until the courts have looked into the situation closer.
What Are The Grounds?
There are a lot of reasons to contest a will. The list includes issues that, on the surface, may not seem terribly severe – for instance, clerical issues within the document. While this may seem like a simple (and, for that reason, excusable) oversight, it can easily render entire wills invalid.
Then, there are the more extreme grounds – matters like undue influence, fraudulence, forgery or coercion. Proving that foul play has taken place can be hard – and, for obvious reasons, it can tear families apart. Still, if you have good reasons to suspect that this is the cause, contesting the will is important not just for you, but for the testator.
Here is the full list of reasons for contesting a will:
- Want of due execution (the clerical errors we mentioned above – generally, issues with the legal formalities required in a valid will).
- Lack of testamentary capacity
- Undue influence
- Want of knowledge and approval
- Fraudulent calumny (for instance, if a family member made accusations against a potential beneficiary, causing the testator to omit them from the will on false grounds)
- Fraud or forgery
Who Can Contest A Will?
You should be able to prove a vested interest in the will. In most cases, this will apply only to close relatives of the testator – for instance, a spouse, child, or financial dependent. But, if your name is mentioned within a will (or a previous will) then you can be considered to have a vested interest and will be able to contest the will even if you are not a close relative.
It’s important that you prepare for a long and emotionally arduous process. You’ll need to process your emotions while making major decisions with significant ramifications. But, for those who have chosen this course before, it tends to represent a necessity – an opportunity to right a wrong, either on their own behalf or on the behalf of the testator.