Jul 6, 2018
As solicitors who prepare Wills, we know that the last thing our clients want is for theirs to be challenged later on.
A Will should provide certainty. It enables an individual to set out exactly who should benefit from their estate, and how, after their death. And a large part of what we help clients do is ensure that their Wills are well conceived, legally compliant, and pose as few risks as possible of messy repercussions when the Will-makers are no longer around to speak for themselves.
In reality, if someone wants to contest a Will, they will have a go. But there are in law only certain grounds for doing that. These are where it’s alleged that:
the person who made the Will was not of sound mind; they didn’t have the necessary mental capacity at the time they made the Will;
the Will wasn’t properly executed (for example, it wasn’t witnessed);
the person didn’t have the necessary knowledge about their Will (they didn’t know what they were signing, and wouldn’t have approved it);
the person was put under undue influence to make the Will;
forgery or fraud had taken place.
As well as writing Wills, we help family members who are concerned about the situation surrounding the making of a loved one’s Will, or who believe that they have not been sufficiently provided for. These are big assertions to make, and our initial advice to clients is always to consider very carefully the full range of pros and cons of taking those assertions to the next level. Family relationships are often put to the test when one party alleges impropriety, or claims entitlement to a greater share of the deceased’s estate.
But, as with most legal claims, risks need to be taken if the right result is to be achieved. Will disputes can take time, and they can be divisive. But well-judged handling of the facts, the legal arguments, and the correspondence makes all the difference. Aside from constructing the best legal case, it’s our job to minimise the negative effects that any sort of legal action has on the relationships that our clients are keen to preserve. And this begins with a forensic analysis of what has gone on; a plan; and a firm, fair and constructive approach to resolution.
If you are concerned about a Will that a loved one has made, talk to a member of our disputes team. It’s best to act quickly; strict time limits apply to legal action.
You can do this by calling us on 01264 353 411, emailing email@example.com or completing our Online Enquiry Form and we'll be happy to help.
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