Can a sibling contest a Will?

A little boy and girl walking up a path

When a parent passes away it can raise tensions between family members as emotions run high. Siblings who, even under the most testing of times stick, together can suddenly become at war with each other over their parents’ estate. Especially when one of them doesn’t agree with the terms laid out in the Will. 

If it is just a case of they don’t agree with something then this is not a valid reason and would not hold up under the scrutiny of a judge should the case end up in a contested trial.

No contest clause

If there is a No Contest Clause and a sibling contests the Will, should they lose they then forfeit their entire inheritance. 

Reasoning to contest a Will

A sibling is able to legally contest the Will. However they will need to have a valid reason and be able to prove this to a Court.

If it is just a case of they don’t agree with something then this is not a valid reason and would not hold up under the scrutiny of a judge should the case end up in a contested trial.

Do remember that when a Court is dealing with a Will contest, they do not have emotions involved, so they will rule based on the merits of the case. It is also a complicated and expensive process so should not be entered into lightly. 

There are several reasons why someone would legally want to raise a Will contest – 

  1. They believe the Will wasn’t executed properly For a Will to be executed correctly it must be signed by the Testator and have at least two witnesses. 
  2. They believe that their parent(s) didn’t have full mental capacity at the time of making their Will When your parent(s) makes their Will they must be fully aware of the value of their estate and also the consequences of their decisions and the impact should they decide to disinherit a person. 
  3. They believe their parent(s) were coerced into making a decision All decisions of the Testator must be their own. There must not be any undue influence from any other outside sources. 
  4. They believe the Will to be forged – This would need to be proven, normally with the help of a handwriting expert.

Raising the dispute

Oftentimes a sibling will raise a dispute under the Inheritance (Provisions for Family & Dependants) Act 1975

This act is specifically for dependants of the deceased such as spouses, children, step children or an individual that was financially dependent on the Testator before their death where they believe that there has not been adequate financial provisions made for them through the Will. 

A court will look whether they believe the Will does adequately provide for them. If they find that it does not they will then look at the current financial situation of the claimant, any physical or mental disabilities they suffer from and the size of the estate. If they see fit they will then intervene with a new settlement. 

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