How to prevent someone contesting a Will in the UK?

A person signing a document

Everyone hopes that once they are no longer here that their wishes will be carried out without arguments and disputes. No one wants to think of their family and loved ones fighting over money or possessions but unfortunately sometimes this does happen, especially when emotions are involved.

To help ensure everything runs smoothly then you must have a valid Will that is in place before the event of your death. If the validity is brought into question then claims against the Will can legally be raised.

Regularly go over your Will with your solicitor to keep on top of any tweaks that need to be made to reflect any of your family and financial changes.

Formalities

One way to prevent someone from contesting your Will is to ensure that certain formalities are carried out to ensure the validity of the document. 

  1. You as the Testator must have full mental capacity at the time of making your will. For example you must not be suffering from Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease at the time. You must fully understand what a will is, the decisions you are making and also understand the consequences of your decisions in regards to who you put in or leave out of your Will. 
  2. You must not be coerced into making any of the decisions by outside sources. All decisions must be your own. 
  3. You must have appropriate knowledge of all of your assets and their current value. 
  4. Your Will must be in writing and signed by yourself, in the presence of at least two witnesses. These witnesses must also sign the Will in the presence of yourself. If you are unable to sign for yourself then you must verbally instruct someone to do this on your behalf. If you are unable to read the Will once it is drawn up, before signing, then the Will must be read out loud to you. 
  5. An obvious one but one that definitely needs mentioning! The Will must not be forged. 

Many times claims are made against a Will because an individual will believe that these points have not been met. 

Contest clauses

You are also able to add a “No Contest Clause” or a “Forfeiture Clause” into your will. This is a clause that states that a beneficiary will forfeit their inheritance if they choose to challenge the Will at any point after your death. 

When this clause is stipulated in your Will and a beneficiary does decide to raise a claim, if they are unsuccessful they will lose their entire legacy. This clause can act as a deterrent to someone who believes they are receiving less than their “fair share” of your estate. 

However, if they do challenge the validity of the Will and they are successful, where the Will is found to be invalid, the no contest clause will then become void.. 

Summary

It is also a good idea to regularly go over your Will with your solicitor to keep on top of any tweaks that need to be made to reflect any of your family and financial changes. This can help deflect any disputes in the future and ensure that your wishes are fulfilled. 

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