What are the chances of winning a Will contest?

It is always an unsettling time when a loved one passes away. This is made worse when the Will is read and you find out that you were either not included as a beneficiary, or you didn’t receive what you thought was rightfully meant for you. 

You may now be wanting to contest the Will but wondering what your chances are at winning? Not one Solicitor will be able to guarantee a win for you. Many factors come into play when proceeding ahead with contesting a Will

A Will must be contested within six months from the Grant of Probate being issued. Your Solicitor will try to settle the case out of court, not only to keep both time and costs down but also to keep the emotional toll as little as possible for all parties involved. 

Reasons to contest a will

  1. You must be an Interested Party  

By this we mean that you must have a vested interest in the deceased and fall into one of the below categories.

  • A spouse or ex spouse
  • A dependent such as a child of the deceased or a step child
  • An individual who was living with the deceased for at least two years prior to their death.
  • An individual who was financially dependent on the Testator. 
  • An individual or an organisation who was promised an inheritance by the deceased. 
  1. You must also be able to prove your case. 

If you believe the Will to be invalid for the following reasons you must be able to provide evidence for this.

  • Do you believe that they were coerced into making the decisions laid out in their Will?
  • Do you believe that they were not at full mental capacity when they made their Will due to either illness or disability?
  • Do you believe that the Testator wasn’t aware of the value of their estate or the consequences of the decisions they were making?
  • Do you believe that the Will was forged?

Gathering evidence

You may need to call witnesses to help with proving your case, such as a medical expert or in the case of fraud, a handwriting expert.

Experts do come with a cost attached to them but they can be vital in helping you win your dispute. 

Unbalanced inheritance

If you believe that the Will was valid but that proper financial provisions haven’t been made for you then under the Inheritance (Provisions for Family & Dependents) Act 1975, the court will look at – 

  • Whether the Will does make financial provisions for you. 
  • If it doesn’t, should the court intervene to award you further provisions from the estate. 
  • What provisions would be appropriate. 

They will also look at – 

  • Your current financial position
  • The size of the estate.
  • Any physical or mental disabilities that you as the claimant suffer from.
  • Any obligations the deceased had to yourself.  

No contest clause

Do be aware of whether there is a “No Contest Clause” in the Will before deciding to contest it. With a No Contest Clause, it will state that any beneficiary that raises a claim against the Will will forfeit their entire inheritance. 

In summary

Although no one can foresee and guarantee you the outcome that you desire, if you fall into any of the above categories, the first step would be to consult with your Solicitor.

A Will must be contested within six months from the Grant of Probate being issued. Your Solicitor will try to settle the case out of court, not only to keep both time and costs down but also to keep the emotional toll as little as possible for all parties involved. 

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