How long do you have to contest a will?
In almost all types of legal claim, time limits apply. If a claim is not brought within the time limit, the right to claim is lost. When a will is disputed, the time limit applicable will depend on the type of claim.
Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
Inheritance Act claims are brought by spouses, children and other dependents of the deceased where the will, or the lack of a will, means reasonable financial provision is not made for the person bringing the claim.
Inheritance Act Claims must be brought within 6 months of the date of the Grant of Probate. A Grant of Probate is the official document produced by the Probate Registry giving the Executor named in the will the power to deal with the deceased’s estate.
An Inheritance Act claim can be brought at any point up to this deadline and a claim and, if necessary, before the Grant of Probate is obtained.
Lack of capacity, want of knowledge and approval, and undue influence
Claims relating to the mental state of the deceased at the time they made the will must be brought with 12 years of the date the claim arises. The claim arises usually on death.
This may seem like a very long period of time but in reality a claimant would never really want to wait this long because the Executors are under a duty to deal with the estate within a reasonable period of time and this usually takes no more than 2 years from the date of death (sometimes longer in complicated estates). Once the estate has been distributed, it can be very difficult for a claimant, and the court, to try to piece it back together again.
Accordingly, we would always advise seeking advice immediately if you think you have a claim. We would normally make sure the executors do not make any distribution before the claim has been dealt with.