If you’ve recently suffered a bereavement, the pain and stress of this time can be compounded by confusion and hurt if you feel that you have been unfairly left out of a loved one’s will. Contesting a will can be a drawn-out and expensive process, but if you have grounds to do so it’s best to get in touch with a solicitor’s practice that specialises in probate cases before the money or property has been disseminated to the named beneficiaries.
Lack of Valid Execution
For a will to be valid, it must be in writing and signed by the testator (the deceased) or by someone in their presence, as directed by the testator. The testator’s signature must be witnessed by two people, present at the same time. These witnesses must also sign the will or acknowledge the signature in the presence of the testator. If it can be prove that the testator did not intend their signature to give effect to the will, it may be rendered invalid.
Lack of Knowledge and Approval
The testator must know what’s in the will and be aware that they are signing a will. You can contest a will on these grounds even if the person signing it had mental capacity and the will was validly executed. These grounds indicate that there were suspicious circumstances surrounding the will or that the testator was unaware of the contents of the will.
You need a high standard of evidence to successfully prove that undue influence was exerted on the testator. It must be proved that the testator was physically or psychologically coerced into making the will and adding certain elements, and substantial gifts to one party do not provide evidence of this.
Forged and Fraudulent Wills
If a signature has been forged or the will has been altered due to the testator believing a falsehood told by a beneficiary, the will may be rendered invalid.
Construction and Rectification
If the person preparing the will fails to understand the testator’s instructions, the will has been negligently drafted or there has been a clerical error, the will needs to be rectified. It’s very important to contact a qualified legal team if you believe this is the case. You can also bring a construction claim against a will if the wording is ambiguous.