When a loved one passes away, it is an inevitably upsetting and distressing time for those who are left behind – one that can be made worse by a lack of provision in the deceased’s will. If you were closely connected to the person who has died, yet are not in line to receive a share of their estate, it is important to understand your legal rights.
Contested probate has been rising for some years in the UK, as more people mount legal challenges to the distribution of assets under the deceased’s will. If you were the legal or de facto spouse, same-sex partner, divorced spouse, child or dependant of the deceased and expected to receive ‘reasonable financial provision’ via their will or intestacy, you may be able to mount a challenge.
Contesting a will
Probate can be contested in a number of different circumstances under the Laws of England and Wales. Firstly, if you suspect a will has been made fraudulently, or changes have been made without the knowledge of the testator, there would be grounds to contest probate. Similarly, if a third party has exercised undue influence on the testator – putting them under pressure to alter their will – documentation may not be valid.
Any last will and testament that contravenes the provisions of the Wills Act will be struck out during probate. It is essential that the will is in writing, signed and dated, as well as witnessed by two independents at the time the document was created. Neither of the witnesses can be a beneficiary to the will, as this would create a conflict of interest.
In some circumstances, the testator may lack the capacity to make a valid will. They must be of sound mind and judgement, and fully understand the nature of making the will, the extent of the estate assets they have provided for and who the beneficiaries are. Individuals who suffer from mental illness or memory loss – for example, Alzheimer’s Disease – may not be able to legally form a will.
If the deceased has promised to provide for a particular individual, but then cut them out of their will entirely, this may allow probate to be contested. The same applies if stakeholders believe the executor of the will has failed to meet the standards of conduct expected of them.
Using a probate solicitor on a no win no fee basis
Contesting a will is a complex process which needs to be carried out by a legal specialist – an experienced lawyer with expertise in probate law. With traditional law firms, this can cause difficulties, as payment is often required up front. If the challenge fails and the will is upheld, claimants can be left with a legal bill but no settlement to help meet the costs.
However, it is possible to hire probate solicitors on a no win no fee basis. Experts are able to sensitively consider your claim and determine whether there are grounds to contest the will. If you have a strong case, they’ll fight your corner and only take payment if and when you win. This offers a risk-free means of contesting probate, one that can help reduce stress at what is a very difficult time.
Going Legal Limited has been established for over 20 years, during which time we have been successful in recovering many millions of pounds for our clients. Unlike other firms we welcome complex and difficult cases and specialise in contesting Wills via Probate Solicitors, No-Win, No-Fee.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Going Legal Limited unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute legal or any other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.