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Contesting a will

If a will is ambiguous or contains mistakes,  there may be grounds to contest it. Our will dispute solicitors can help.

Sometimes the terms of a will may come as a surprise, or there may be something odd about it. For example, family members who expect to inherit are not included, the signature looks wrong or the will was made when the person was unwell or frail. If you are facing a situation like this, you are not alone and should seek advice.

How we can help

Our specialist will dispute lawyers resolve disagreements as quickly as possible. We are one of the largest and most experienced teams in the country and we deal with all manner of will disputes – including many instances where our clients believed there was no prospect of reaching a settlement.

As all our solicitors belong to the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists, you will be looked after by an expert. We guide you through the process step by step.

We understand that, for many of our clients, disputing a will or a trust is a last resort. We also appreciate you may want to stay in touch with those involved in the dispute afterwards. You can rest assured we will handle your dispute with care and sensitivity.

We listen to your instructions carefully and arrange payment terms that suit your circumstances; in many cases we offer fixed fees, deferred payments, or no win, no fee terms.

Our team can advise on:

  • Contesting a will or disputing a trust
  • Seeking the removal of trustees
  • Mistakes in a trust
  • Requests to trustees for disclosure of information
  • Ambiguous, or poorly written wills
  • Bringing a claim against a trustee for breach of trust
  • Removing executors
  • Resolving cases when executors disagree
  • Undue influence of a beneficiary

Who we work with

Our will dispute lawyers are based in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and London. Many of our clients are from the South East (including Kent, Sussex, Surrey and London), but we also act for clients based throughout England and Wales and overseas.

We can meet with our clients at any of our offices or at home or their place of work. We also meet with clients via video conferencing. Wherever our clients are based, we ensure we communicate with them in a way that suits their needs.

 

Meet the team

Our contesting a will experience

Our client successes

  • Case study
  • Will construction dispute

    1 min

    Acting for a minor in respect of a Will with ambiguous terms.

    Read the case study
  • Case study
  • Will dispute

    3 min

    Challenging a Will that disinherits the family.

    Read the case study

    How we made a difference

    Frequently asked questions

    There are three main grounds for contesting a will:

    • By disputing the validity of a will (a ‘validity claim’);
    • By asserting that the will (or the intestacy rules) does not make proper financial provision for you (an ‘inheritance claim’)
    • By claiming that the will is overridden by a promise made to you (‘proprietary estoppel’)

    Additionally, disputes can arise from the manner in which an estate is administered (‘executor and trustee disputes’).

    The grounds for disputing the validity of a will include that the person making the will (known as the ‘testator’):

    • Has not or has not correctly executed the will
    • Did not have mental capacity to do so
    • Did not have sufficient knowledge of the terms of the will
    • Had pressure applied on them
    • Was provided with false information which made them include or exclude someone.

    This is a claim brought under the inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (‘the Inheritance Act’) alleging that a will or the intestacy rules does not leave you enough money.

    This is different to disputing the validity of a will. Instead of challenging the validity of the will, you ask the Court to vary it to give you a share or a larger share of the money.

    The Inheritance Act specifies those eligible to bring an Inheritance Claim. These include spouses and civil partners, children, certain co-habitees and anyone dependent on the deceased.

    If you are eligible to bring a claim, you need to show that the will or the intestacy rules does not leave you sufficient money to pay for your needs.

    The Court does this by looking at which class of claimant you are and by reviewing all the facts of the case. Ultimately, each claim will be decided on its own merits.

    If you are worried about a situation like this, visit our page on Inheritance Act Claims which will help you to decide whether you might have grounds to contest a will in this way

    It is not uncommon for people to make promises during their lifetime about who will receive their assets following their death.

    If these promises are sufficiently clear and are relied upon, they can be enforced.

    This type of claim often arises in connection with family businesses, especially farming businesses, where someone has been encouraged to work for no or low pay within the business on the understanding that it will eventually pass to them.

    Challenging a will can seem daunting not least because those wanting advice are grieving for a loved one and taking steps to dispute a will is often not an immediate priority.

    Where there are concerns it is important to take initial steps to protect your position. This may include registering a caveat, which prevents a grant of probate being made. A grant of probate is the authority to distribute the testator’s estate in accordance with his will. A ‘caveat’ therefore provides time for you to instruct a solicitor specialising in will disputes to investigate and advise on the merits of challenging the disputed will.

    At this stage a solicitor specialising in will disputes can advise you on the information obtained and the merits of your will claim.

    People worry about the cost of taking a will dispute to court. However, depending on the facts of each case, the costs of undertaking initial investigations are much more modest. It will only be if the claim has sufficient merit that further costs will normally be incurred.

    Furthermore, most claims challenging a will do not reach trial. Instead, most will disputes that have merit are settled by agreement or following mediation before court proceedings are commenced.

    Read our guide on the costs of will disputes.

    In many cases, we can undertake initial investigations under fixed fees or using “no win, no fee” agreements.

    The grounds for disputing a will include that the person making the will (known as the testator):

    • Has not or has not correctly executed the will;
    • Did not have mental capacity to do so;
    • Did not have sufficient knowledge of the terms of the will;
    • Had pressure applied on them; or
    • Was provided with false information which made them include or exclude someone.

    When someone dies, the property, money and other assets that they own, and which need to be transferred to their beneficiaries, is called their estate.

    The person responsible for transferring the assets to the beneficiaries is known as the executor. If there is no Will, this person is instead called an ‘administrator’.

    • The correct meaning of the terms of a Will;
    • Delay;
    • Disputes over the sharing of information;
    • Disagreements over the value and sale of assets, especially property;
    • Costs and expenses;
    • Executors acting where there is a conflict of interests;
    • Disputes between executors;
    • Allegations of loss and negligence;
    • Removing or replacing executors.

    A trust is a vehicle used to control the distribution of a person’s assets and/or to minimise the tax liability upon their estate on their death.

    Trusts can be created during a person’s lifetime or on their death by their will.

    The person responsible for managing the trust is called the trustee.

    Contact us

    If you have a question or need advice, please let us know how we can help.

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