In 2017, there were 8,100 applications made to contest probate. In 2018, this figure rose by 6%.
Many consider the 2017 case of Ilott v Mitson; where a daughter successfully challenged her mother’s will which was set to leave her fortune to a number of animal charities, as a turning point in the number of people contesting their family’s wills.
Now, according to research by Direct Line Insurance, more than 12.6 million people would be prepared to go to court to dispute a family member’s will if they disagreed with the division of their estate or other substantial reason.
Common reasons for contesting a will include testimony capacity; where the claimant questions the deceased’s legal and metal ability to have made or altered their will, rectification and construction claims; where a clerical mistake has been made during the drafting of the will or the drafted will has failed to correctly reflect the intentions of the deceased. Other reasons may include concerns of undue influence upon the person making the will or where the will has not been executed and witnessed in the correct way.
Who Can Contest a Will?
Any person affected by changes made in any new will or when a will is modified by the Testator is entitled to challenge the Will and object to the Grant of Probate.
There may be a claim when a family member or dependant of the Deceased believes that the Will or Intestacy provisions ( where there is no valid will in place)fail to provide that person with reasonable financial provision. Such a claim is made under the Inheritance ( Provision for Family and Dependants ) Act 1975.
Persons entitled to make such a claim include:
A former spouse/civil partner of the deceased who has not remarried or entered a subsequent civil partnership (in certain limited circumstances)
A child of the deceased or a child treated as a child of the family by the deceased (including adult children)
Any person who cohabited with the deceased person for a continuous period of two or more years immediately prior to their death
Anyone who immediately before the death of the deceased was being maintained wholly or in part by the deceased
How to Challenge a Will
There is also only a short period of time in which a claim can be made, sometimes as little as six months after a grant of probate has been made, so it is vital that potential claimants discuss their options with a professional at the earliest opportunity.
Challenging a will after probate has been granted can be possible but it is usually advisable to do so beforehand to allow a solicitor to put a caveat on the Estate which prevents any assets being disposed of which will protect the interests of the aggrieved party whilst legal advisors can investigate and advise if any claim can be made against the Estate.
If you are considering challenging a will, Farleys Solicitors can provide comprehensive legal advice. Call 0845 287 0939 or email us through our online contact form.