Time limits to challenge a will depend on the type of claim being contemplated.
Inheritance Act Claims
If you are making a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975, the time limit is 6 months from the date of grant of probate. There are certain circumstances in which you can make an application to the Court to bring a claim beyond this period, but you must have sufficient grounds to do so and permission is at the discretion of the Court.
You can issue Inheritance Act claims before a Grant of Probate.
Claims involved validity, capacity, undue influence, want of knowledge or fraud
There is no defined time limit for bringing one of these claims in the court. However, practically, once the estate of the deceased has been distributed, it is very hard to try to unpick the distribution to settle any subsequent claim. Generally speaking, executors will try to administer an estate within 12 months. Seeking early advice can mean the executors are put on notice of the claim and warned not to distribute the estate.
Equally, where the parties settle a claim and agree to distribute an estate in another way from the will, the parties can agree a deed of variation to the will but such a deed needs to be completed within 2 years from the date of death of the deceased.
Can I bring a claim out of time?
It is essential that legal advice is sought as soon as possible to avoid being out of time. If you are out of time for bringing a claim, there are only limited and exceptional circumstances in which a court would allow your claim to continue.
What if the time limit is nearly up?
If the limitation date is fast approaching and there is insufficient time to assess the claim properly, a lawyer might advise that proceedings are issued immediately in order to preserve the claim. You can issue proceedings but not send to them to the other side for a period of 4 months. This is called issuing “protective” proceedings. During this time your lawyer can review the claim and assess the evidence to decide whether the claim has reasonable grounds. This involves an upfront cost of course, hence why we recommend you contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
If you require any advice regarding any matter similar to this, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with our experienced team on 01392 207020.