How long after probate can a Will be contested UK?

After a death, you may have concerns about whether the deceased’s Will was valid or you may want to challenge the terms of the Will and make a claim for financial support. We answer the question, How long after probate can a Will be contested in the UK? and look at valid grounds for making a case.

At Lockings Solicitors, our contentious probate team specialises in resolving disputes over Wills and inheritance issues. We have many years of experience and we are frequently able to find an out-of-court solution, avoiding the need for court hearings.

We fully understand that you may find it hard to make a claim after the death of a loved one and you will find our team members to be approachable and supportive. Our advice to you will be clear and realistic and we are always happy to take the time to explain complicated issues or to discuss the best strategy for your case.

Associate Director Sarah Thomsen leads the team and is also the head of our civil litigation department, with over 20 years of litigation and dispute resolution experience. She is a full member of ACTAPS, the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists, with expertise in all types of Wills and inheritance matters, including complex and high-value cases. She is supported by a strong team with a high level of expertise and broad experience in this challenging area of law.

If you have concerns over the way in which an estate is being administered or you wish to contest a Will, call us on 01482 300 200, email us at welcome@lockings.co.uk 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.

When can I contest a Will?

After someone dies, it may be possible to contest their Will in the following situations:

  • The Will is not valid
  • It is unclear or ambiguous
  • Errors were made in the drafting of the Will
  • You were left out of the Will

It is also possible to challenge the way in which executors are dealing with the administration of an estate, including where:

  • The estate administration is not progressing efficiently
  • The executors are mismanaging matters or breaching their duties
  • The executors are not acting in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries

When is a Will invalid?

Wills must be carefully drafted and executed and the person making the Will, known as the testator must understand what they are signing and the implications of doing so. In the following situations, a Will might not be valid:

  • The testator does not have sufficient mental capacity
  • They did not have full knowledge and approval of the provisions of the Will
  • They were placed under undue influence to sign the Will
  • The Will was not correctly signed and witnessed
  • The Will was revoked or became automatically invalid, for example, because the testator married
  • Fraud or forgery

If the courts find that a Will is invalid, then an earlier valid Will takes its place, if there is one. If there is no other valid Will, then the deceased’s estate will pass under the rules of intestacy to close family members in order of priority, starting with a spouse and children.

Can I make a claim against an estate for financial support?

Certain individuals are permitted to make a financial claim if they do not receive sufficient support from an estate. Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, those entitled to make a claim are:

  • A spouse or civil partner of the deceased
  • A former spouse or former civil partner, provided they have not remarried or entered into a civil partnership
  • A cohabiting partner who lived 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
  • Anyone who was being financially supported by the deceased at their death

A spouse or civil partner can make a claim for a sum similar to that which they would receive in a divorce. Anyone else can claim ‘reasonable financial provision’. In deciding how much to award, the court will take into account the size of the estate and the circumstances of both you and any other beneficiaries and claimants.

How long after probate can a Will be contested?

The deadline for contesting a Will depends on the type of claim that is being made. However, in all circumstances it is preferable to start a claim as soon as possible.

If you ask us to represent you, we will put together a case on your behalf that is likely to involve evidence from witnesses as well as documents, such as the solicitor’s file from when the Will was prepared and signed. The sooner we can secure this evidence, the more likely it is to be available and the better recollection those involved will have.

Certain types of claims have specific deadlines and these are relatively short. This means that you should speak to a contentious probate solicitor as soon as you can to start the process of filing a claim.

For example, if you wish to make a claim for financial provision from an estate because you were not included in the Will or you were left less than you feel you need, there is a deadline of six months from the date on which probate was granted. In exceptional circumstances, the court may allow an extension, but only if we are able to put forward a valid reason for the delay.

How do I start a challenge to a Will?

The first step is to speak to a lawyer with genuine expertise of contesting a Will. This is a difficult area of law and claims need to be handled carefully. Our contentious probate solicitors can advise you of the strength of your case and the best way of approaching the situation.

It may be possible to negotiate a settlement with the estate’s executors, which will avoid the need for litigation. Executors are often open to settling legal action, as it can avoid lengthy delays in the administration process.

Our team are robust negotiators and are often able to settle claims relatively quickly.

Contact us

If you need help and advice to contest a Will, contact us today.

Call us on 01482 300 200, email us at welcome@lockings.co.uk 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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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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