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OBJECTING TO A WILL – CONTENTIOUS PROBATE



Contentious Probate. ~ As much as the whole experience can be upsetting, there are occasions when objecting to a will is necessary. Sometimes the details of the will fail to account for someone who should be a beneficiary for example – the most common occurrence of this is when that person is a dependent. Time is of the essence if you are considering the possibility of objecting to a will for some reason. The sooner you seek legal advice the better, since the longer you leave it the less chance there is of being successful in your claim.


Is The Will Valid? ~ There is a detailed set of guidelines and rules laid down regarding the writing of wills in the UK and it’s always very important to ensure that a will meets with all these guidelines. If it doesn’t it may open up the possibility of a third party objecting to a will and of it being contested.


What Should I Do? ~ If you have made a will that is later deemed to be invalid then you will basically be treated as if you hadn’t made one at all – which is called dying intestate, unless an earlier will then takes precedence. This could mean that the people you want your assets to go to won’t receive them and the Crown could even step forward to lay claim to it.


The Requirements. ~ To prevent someone objecting to a will on the basis that it is invalid, it must be made by you when you are eighteen or over and fully understanding of what you are doing. You must also call on two witnesses and you should all sign the will in the appropriate places at the same time. You should also remember that your witnesses won’t be able to be included as beneficiaries themselves, since this is against the rules. This is because the witness would then have a personal interest in the contents of the will, and could be deemed to have influenced the testator into signing it.


Lost Wills. ~ While any of these conditions failing to be met would provide grounds for proving that a will is invalid, it is certainly the lost will which can cause the biggest problems. These invariably lead to a full blown court case to decide whether it actually is lost or whether it was properly destroyed as a result of the testator wanting to get rid of it in favour of writing a new one. It is understandable that those beneficiaries who may be cut out of the will if it was deemed to be lost rather than destroyed (or the other way around) would certainly want to contest the will to ensure that they have the best chance of obtaining something from it.

The idea is that the executor must be able to prove to the satisfaction of a judge that the will was lost rather than destroyed, and if they can do so then the details of the lost will could still be taken as being the final wishes of the deceased. In some cases, if the judge decides to rule that the will was destroyed, the intestacy rules could come into effect.


No Win No Deals. ~ It is generally the case that a solicitor will agree to take on the case as a no win, no fee deal. Court cases involving contested wills can be very complex however and you should be certain that you have a good chance of winning before entering into one. If the case is successfully proved the fees will come directly from the estate left by the deceased.

There are two main reasons why wills are contested. The first, as we have seen, is due to someone being convinced that a will is invalid for some reason, and the second is due to a dependent being left out of the will altogether, when they did have a legal right to be included. These cases have a high chance of success as they should have been included in the first place, and have a right to get continued support even after the testator dies.



HELPLINE 0870 185 1840