The process of challenging a Will can quite often be complex and emotionally charged. Whether you are an executor, beneficiary, or a concerned family member, it is important to understand the processes behind challenging a Will.
Grounds for challenging a Will
While in many cases a Will shall go unchallenged, there are several reasons why a Will may be brought into question. These include:
If you feel that any of the above points cast doubt over the validity of the Will, here are the steps you should make to challenge it.
Seek legal advice
The first step in challenging a Will is to seek legal advice. Our team of solicitors are experienced in probate law and can provide tailored advice based on your specific circumstances.
Obtain a copy of the Will
You’ll need a copy of the Will to review its contents and identify any irregularities. This can usually be obtained from the executor or the probate registry.
Place a caveat
If you have reasonable grounds to challenge the Will, you can place a caveat on the estate. This prevents the Grant of Probate from being issued and buys you time to investigate further.
Before taking the matter to court, parties are encouraged to resolve their disputes amicably. The pre-action protocol involves sending a “Letter of Claim” to the executor, outlining the grounds for the challenge and seeking relevant documents.
If an agreement cannot be reached, the next step is to issue proceedings in the High Court. This involves filing a claim form and serving it on the other parties involved.
Disclosure and evidence
Both parties will be required to disclose relevant documents and may need to provide witness statements. Expert evidence may also be sought, particularly in cases involving testamentary capacity or undue influence.
If the matter proceeds to trial, both parties will present their case before a judge. The court will then make a decision based on the evidence presented.
If you are dissatisfied with the court’s decision, you may have the option to appeal. However, this is generally only possible on specific legal grounds and within a limited timeframe.
Costs and risks
Challenging a Will can be expensive, and there’s no guarantee of success. Legal costs can quickly escalate, and if you lose, you may be liable for the other party’s costs as well.
While there can be many emotional and financial challenges to contesting a Will, a successful outcome will leave you feeling justified for casting doubt on the Will originally.
Our expert team of solicitors are here to guide you through this process. If you would like further assistance and advice, please contact us today.
Solicitor – litigation and dispute resolution
Prior to qualifying as a solicitor, I worked within the education sector as a senior leader in a secondary school.
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