Who can contest a will?

Whether you can contest a will or not depends on whether you have a sufficient interest in the claim. This usually depends on the type of claim in question.

Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 175

If you are one of the following people, and the will of the deceased does not make sufficient provision for you, you can look to bring an Inheritance Act claim:

  • spouse or civil partner
  • a former spouse or civil partner who has not remarried
  • cohabitees who were living as husband and wife
  • a child of the deceased (not limited to those under 18)
  • a person treated as a child of the deceased as a result of a marriage
  • someone else who was being wholly or partly maintained by the deceased

You can also bring an Inheritance Act claim where there is no will and the default inheritance rules (called “intestacy rules”) do not make sufficient provision for you.

Validity, Capacity, Undue Influence, Knowledge and Approval

There are other grounds for challenging a will and these include claims that:

  • the will was not validly prepared
  • the deceased was pressurised in to making a new will
  • the deceased did not have the legal capacity to make a will
  • the deceased did not fully understand the nature and extent of his estate

In these cases, the people who lose out because an earlier will (or the intestacy rules) gave them something more can look to bring a claim.

It is also possible for the executors of the will in questions to begin a court claim in order to obtain an order that the will is valid.     Additionally, the executors of an earlier will, if they are different, could also bring a claim.

Estoppel

This is the name for a claim where a person was promised something by the deceased in their will, and where that person relied on the promise to their detriment, the court can order that the estate fulfil the promise if the will does not reflect the promise made.

In that case, the person who was promised something can look to bring a claim.

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