Can a Will be contested after probate?

If you have concerns about the validity of a Will or you have been left out of a Will but believe you are entitled to a legacy, you may want to make a legal challenge. We answer the question, can a Will be contested after probate and look at some of the grounds for bringing a case.

At Lockings Solicitors, we have many years of experience in dealing with all types of contentious probate, including challenging the validity of Wills and making inheritance claims.

We can give you a clear assessment of the strength of your case and discuss the options available to you. When dealing with contested Wills, we are often able to negotiate an out of court settlement, avoiding the need for litigation. Where this is not possible, we can put together the strongest possible case for hearing in court.

Our contentious probate team is led by Associate Director Sarah Thomsen, who is also the head of our civil litigation department and has over twenty years of litigation experience. She is also a member of the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS) and has an exceptional depth of knowledge in this complex area of law. Sarah is supported by a strong team with a broad base of knowledge and expertise.

To talk to us about contesting a Will, call us on 01482 300 200, email us at or fill in our Free Online Enquiry and we will ring you back promptly. We have offices in Beverley, Hull and York and represent clients across the UK and abroad if the matter relates to English property and estates.

What are the grounds for contesting a Will?

If you wish to contest a Will, you need to check that you have a valid reason for doing so. The main reasons for challenging a Will are:

  • The Will is invalid
  • You were not included in the Will, but believe you should receive financial support from deceased’s estate

Contesting an invalid Will

There are several reasons why the courts might find a Will to be invalid, including:

  • The person who made the Will (the testator) did not have sufficient mental capacity to make a Will
  • The testator had a lack of knowledge or approval of the contents of the Will
  • Someone exercised undue influence over the testator and persuaded them to write their Will in a certain way
  • Fraud or forgery

Making an Inheritance Act claim

Certain individuals may be able to make a claim for financial support from an estate if they were not included in a Will or if they were not left as much as they feel they need.

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (the Act) allows the following people to make a claim:

  • The deceased’s spouse or civil partner
  • Their former spouse or civil partner, provided that they have not remarried or entered into another civil partnership
  • The deceased’s cohabiting partner, so long as they had been living with the deceased for at least two years immediately before the date of death
  • A child of the deceased
  • Someone that the deceased treated as their child
  • Someone who is being financially supported by the deceased as at the date of their death

A spouse or civil partner can make a claim for a similar amount to that which they would have received had they divorced the deceased. Anyone else listed above can make a claim for reasonable financial provision.

Can a Will be contested after probate has been granted?

When dealing with the estate of someone who has died, it is often the case that the executors will need to obtain a Grant of Probate. This is the document which gives them legal authority to wind up the estate and deal with the deceased’s assets.

It can take months to obtain a grant as there are several steps to go through first. The estate needs to be valued and, if it is over the Inheritance Tax threshold, Inheritance Tax will need to be calculated and paid. Only once this has been done can the executors apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate. It generally takes several months for an application to be processed.

Until they receive a Grant of Probate, the executors cannot dispose of the deceased’s assets, with some small exceptions. For example, it may be possible to sell the deceased’s car, but the proceeds should be held until the end of the estate administration process.

If you are concerned about anything relating to the Will or the actions of the executors, you should speak to a contentious probate solicitor as soon as you can. While it is technically possible to contest a Will after probate has been granted, it is preferable to act earlier.

Making a claim will often involve collecting evidence in support of your case. The sooner we can do this, the more likely it is that matters will be fresh in people’s memories and they will be able to provide helpful information about the deceased’s state of mind when they made their Will and other relevant issues.

It is also far easier to deal with matters before there is any risk that the estate will be distributed. Once the administration process has been completed and the funds paid to the beneficiaries, the process of making a claim becomes more complicated.

Time Limits

Certain types of Wills claims have time limits.

If you are making an Inheritance Act claim, this should be issued at Court within six months from the date on which the probate was granted.

Similarly, if you are asking the court to rectify an error in the Will, this must be done within six months from the date of the grant.

On occasion, it may be possible to ask the court for permission to bring a case out of time, but we will need to establish a valid reason for the delay and there are no guarantees that the court will agree to extend the deadline.

How do I contest a Will?

The law surrounding Wills and probate is not straightforward and you are strongly advised to speak to an experienced contentious probate solicitor as a first step.

If you ask us to represent you in contesting a Will, we can enter a caveat at the Probate Registry to stop probate being granted if we feel that this is necessary. This might be an appropriate course of action if you have concerns over the validity of the Will. We can advise you as to whether a caveat is needed and apply for one where necessary.

A caveat lasts for six months, although it can be renewed. The executors may enter an appearance in response. This requires a reply within 14 days detailing the reason why the caveat has been entered.

If you wish to make an Inheritance Act claim, then a caveat is not necessary. We will contact the executors on your behalf to put your case and, where possible, enter into negotiations with them to agree on a payment.

Contact us

If you need help and advice to contest a Will, either before the probate application has been made or afterwards, contact us today.

Call us on 01482 300 200, email us at or fill in our Free Online Enquiry and we will call you back promptly. We have offices in Beverley, Hull and York and represent clients across the UK and abroad if the matter relates to English property and estates.


The content on this website is for information only and is not intended to provide specific legal advice to a particular case. Should you require legal advice in relation to your particular situation then please do not hesitate to contact us.

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