What kinds of things can be used as justification for challenging a will in the UK?

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Have you ever been disinherited and felt that you were entitled to some portion of the deceased person’s estate? Do you believe that family members have treated your parent unjustly or that a step-parent has influenced your parent? Do you have any reason to suspect that a parent’s Will could have been tampered with somehow? This article examines the criteria that must be met to successfully dispute a will in the United Kingdom, as well as the particular circumstances that contribute to that success. https://gloucestershire.wills4less.co.uk/

Contesting the Terms of a Will

The question “can your Wills be challenged?” is something we are asked quite frequently. Always keep in mind that there is the potential for any will to be contested. A person’s loved ones have every right to contest a will if the Will does not provide for them in the manner they had anticipated it would. This is something that a Solicitor would typically handle.

But in a concise amount of time, the attorney for the client will be able to inform them whether or not they have a possibility of winning the case.

This article will outline the extremely particular reasons for successfully contesting a will, which is required for a contest to succeed. Let us begin with an aspect of the problem that will not likely result in a successful outcome.

Reasons for contesting a will that has a low probability of being successful

You have been dealt with unjustly.

Typically, this kind of conflict occurs amongst members of the same family. However, a recent poll found that people are progressively treating their children unequally in their Will to treat them more equitably in the long run. This was done to treat their children more appropriately.

In the past several years, there has been a doubling of the number, and now close to forty percent of adults who have a Will leave uneven sums to each of their children. There are a few explanations for this, the most prominent being that if you’ve provided one kid with significantly more financial support throughout their life than you have to another, it could seem appropriate to address this disparity in the Will. Should the kid in a more precarious financial situation be eligible for a larger share of the inheritance, even though the other child has put in more effort and achieved tremendous financial success? Should the youngster who has helped you the most as a senior earn a larger reward for their actions? What if another child has allowed you less? It’s a challenging question to answer.

If, on the other hand, your sister was given eighty percent of the estate and you were given twenty percent of the estate, how would you feel? This is not sufficient to constitute a reasonable basis for contesting a will.

You were assured of receiving something.

In inheritances, verbal commitments are worthless and have no bearing. It is typical for someone to convey their goal by saying something like, “after I’m gone, I want you to have the wedding ring that belonged to my grandmother.” This kind of wish is typically voiced at every family get-together we attend.

However, the Will only names one beneficiary to get the real estate, and there is no mention of the item promised to be given to them.

You may claim that even if they would specify that everything will go to a spouse, there was a vocal wish that created an exception for a particular valued object. This would be in contrast to the Will specifying that everything will go to the spouse.

This verbal vow does not have any weight. Therefore, you have no right to contest the Will because you are entitled to the thing that was promised to you if it is not included in the Will.

Everything was given to your stepmother, correct?

Almost certainly the most critical contributor to discord in the family.

After her passing, the mother leaves the exclusive father ownership of the estate. They are parents to two little ones. The next step is that the father remarries when he is eighty. Because the new wife is quite a few years younger than their father, the children are more challenging to adjust to the situation. One has the sneaking sense that the new connection is an effort to gain anything from the estate, and sure enough, the father passes away, and his updated will leave everything to the stepmother. The youngsters have not been given anything.

This occurred (in reverse) with Lynda Bellingham’s estate when the new husband was given the five million pound inheritance and lived an extravagant lifestyle. As a result, the legacy the children receive from the estate is not very large.

A well-known example of this is the marriage of Anna Nicole Smith to the wealthy J. Howard Marshall took place when he was 88, and she was just 2. 14 months later, he passed away, leaving an estate well over a billion pounds in value.

This by itself does not constitute sufficient grounds for successfully contesting a will. The feeling that the father has that his children are no longer involved in his life and that they do not care for him in his senior years may be justified if he compares his new wife to an angel in his eyes.

However, if you read the rest of the essay, you will see that there may be other circumstances involved, some of which might make it desirable to challenge this Will.

The family has been entirely cut off from their inheritance.

When people reach their senior years, it is not unusual for them to revise their Will and entirely cut off their family from receiving any inheritance from them. Unfortunately, this frequently leads to the entirety of a legacy being bequeathed to a charitable organization.

To reiterate, absolutely anybody has the legal right to do this, but doing so alone is not sufficient to provide grounds for successfully contesting a will.

What legal reasons can be used to contest a will successfully?

There are five distinct grounds for contesting a will, and each of these reasons, if demonstrated, gives you a high possibility of succeeding in your endeavor.

1. The person who created the Will did not do so with a clear understanding of the consequences of their actions.

The phrase used in the law to describe this situation is “loss of testamentary ability.” They were not of “sound mind,” the vernacular word for the condition. The person writing the Will ought to be conscious that they are making a Will, and they ought to be completely aware of the contents of the Will. They need to be mindful of their assets and fully comprehend the worth of each one. In addition, they should have a complete understanding of their family dynamics, which should be reflected in their Will. If a Will contains language such as “leave everything to my only kid Jonathan,” even though the testator has five children, this may indicate that the testator has lost some or all of their mental ability.

Age is not sufficient justification for a challenge, despite the common perception that older people have more mental capacity. On the contrary, many persons are mentally capable of preparing a will well into their 90s and beyond.

On the other hand, many believe that a person did not have the mental ability to revise their Will right before committing suicide and that they should not have been allowed to do so.

It is necessary to present evidence that demonstrates a diminished mental capacity. When a person reaches their 90s or later, or even later, we frequently read about them revising their Will to leave everything to their medical staff rather than their family. This occurred in the case of HuguetteMarcelle Clark’s inheritance, which was worth around $250 million. Clark, who was 95 then, revised her Will to leave everything to her family but changed it once again. Six weeks later, she went most of her assets to charity and a legacy of £20 Million to her caregiver. The family contested the Will, and the judge’s decision resulted in the nurse’s gift being reduced to… um… nothing.

2. The individual preparing the Will is put under pressure by someone else to transfer their fortune in a specific manner.

There are two variations of this: one involves the person drafting the Will being threatened with bodily harm, and the other consists of the person signing the Will while under duress. The term “undue influence” refers to a scenario roughly analogous to this one and occurs when a trustworthy individual known to the person making the Will seeks to influence the distribution of the inheritance. A beneficiary being present at the document’s signing, carers being added as beneficiaries, and witnesses being close friends of the primary beneficiary are all indicators that this is the case. In its most basic form, the result is a will that does not accurately convey the individual’s intentions for the future.

The fact that the stepmother was given the estate in the example given above is not sufficient grounds for successfully contesting a Will; however, a person who befriended an older adult and received a substantial inheritance, as a result, raises questions about whether or not there was undue influence.

3. Contesting a Will because It Was Drafted Fraudulently

The most typical method for accomplishing this is by faking signatures or making alterations to the document, such as by adding or removing pages. Wills that are handwritten and revisions to handwritten wills are highly likely to be written in this manner. However, it also includes a testator making alterations to a Will based on the erroneous information supplied to them.

The most recent instance reported in the media of a signature being cut and pasted onto a Will (with scissors and adhesive). A severe prison term was handed down as a consequence of this forgery.

4. improper operating techniques

Wills must be signed in the presence of two impartial witnesses who stand to gain nothing from the terms of the Will. The witnesses must be mature individuals in good mental health who are neither beneficiaries nor the spouses of beneficiaries. It is possible to contest a Will if its signatures are not in the correct format.

Remember that having a beneficiary sign a Will as a witness does not render the entire Will void; instead, the beneficiary cannot inherit from the witness. Therefore, any mention of the witness being a beneficiary would be disregarded in this scenario (unless undue influence was established).

5. Inadequate provision for dependents

There is a widespread misunderstanding that you are free to dispose of your estate in any manner that you choose and that you have total “testamentary freedom” to do things like avoid leaving your spouse any inheritance in your Will. The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, on the other hand, enables the close relatives and dependents of the deceased person to petition the court for a portion of the dead person’s estate because the deceased person’s Will does not make “reasonable financial provision” for that relative or dependent. This provision refers to the Will not leaving enough money for the relative or dependent (most commonly, a spouse and child). According to this law, the only persons who are eligible to make a claim are:

spouses or civil partners of the deceased; former spouses or civil partners of the dead who have not remarried; any children of the dead; any person who was treated as a child of the family; a person who was maintained by the dead; a cohabitant of the deceased for at least two years.

Even in such cases, they must provide evidence that they were dealt with unjustly according to the Will. In the end, a court will decide what constitutes reasonable behavior.

Recent difficulties in the news

Recently, we have witnessed contests to wills brought forth by dependents, such as the case involving the estate of George Michael.

There have been cases when stepfathers have been sued by their stepchildren, such as the estate of Lynda Bellingham.

However, there are an infinite number of examples of wills that have been attempted to be forged.

How long do I have to contest a will before it’s too late?

People frequently report that their father passed away two years ago, and since then, nobody has been in touch with them or offered condolences. But, on the other hand, they were anticipating hearing something from the Will.

You must act quickly if you have any clue that anything might not be entire as it should be. According to the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act of 1975, there is a time limit of six months (beginning from the day the grant of probate was issued) for issuing court proceedings.

The fact that you wrote it yourself does not make it any more susceptible to being contested.

If you write your own Will using LegalWills.co.uk, it will not increase the likelihood that your Will will be contested, and it cannot in any way serve as the foundation for a challenge. If the paper is signed in the proper manner and there are witnesses present, then it can be considered a valid will. Be aware, however, that if you want to cut out close relatives from their inheritance, those relatives will have every legal right to contest the Will if you carry out your plans. The challenge will be examined by a judge, who will decide whether or not there are valid grounds for it.

Read also: What Are The Most Common Medical Malpractice Claims?

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