When a loved one passes away, it is one of the most heart-breaking and emotional times in a persons’ life. It can be made extra difficult when issues of inheritance get in the way of your grieving. Inheritance disputes tend to occur when someone feels that they have been treated unfairly, there is a discernible error in the last will or it has not been correctly implemented. If this is the case, the person may have a valid cause to legally contest the contents of the will in court.
Typically, the process of contesting a will is quite complex. Due to this, it is important to understand the various steps within the process as well as consulting with an experienced solicitor, who can provide advice and guidance on your individual situation. They will also be able to determine if there is a case, before committing to any formal legal proceedings. In this guide, we outline what you need to know about contesting a will.
What Are the Grounds for Contesting a Will?
When a person decides to contest a will, it is important to ensure they have a valid reason to contest it. There are a number of reasons as to why a person may decide to contest a will, these may include factors such as:
- The will was drawn up incorrectly
- No witnesses were present when the will was signed
- Fraudulent wills or forged wills
- The deceased was not in the right mind when they signed the will
- The beneficiaries have a right to the estate but were not named
Who Can Contest a Will?
One of the first steps when you choose to contest a will is ensuring that you, or the person in question, have the legal right to do so. While the process is quite complex, the following people can typically make a claim against estates:
- Family Members (Blood Line Relatives)
- Someone Who Was Financially Dependent on the Deceased
- Someone Who is Owed Money (Debt Claim)
- A Beneficiary Under the Will or an Earlier Will
Most wills are contested by family members, who seek to overturn the will. On occasion, others may contest the will, such as someone who was supported financially by the deceased, someone who is owed money or if the beneficiary has not received their inheritance due to the failure of the executors. However, we would recommend discussing your situation with an experienced solicitor to ensure you are entitled to claim.
How Long Do I Have to Contest the Will?
When contesting a will, there are time limits which should be considered. Generally speaking, the time limit is 6 months from the date of the probate being granted for claims being submitted under the Inheritance Order 1979. If you are contesting a will on the grounds of fraud, there is no time limit however, the court can overrule these time limits in exceptional circumstances. Time limits will depend on the specific circumstances each case, so we recommend acting sooner rather than later.
How Long Does It Take?
As it is an extremely complex process that requires mediation between parties, contesting a will takes a long time. If mediation does not resolve the issue, the case will then be brought to court. This can take anywhere from a couple of months to a few years to finalised.
At H McPartland and Sons, we understand how difficult and emotional issues with inheritance can be. For professional advice about your situation. Contact us today and talk to a member of the team. Our experienced solicitors will be able to provide advice and guidance on your individual situation and answer any queries about the process.