Losing a loved one is a difficult time which can be made even worse by finding out you’ve been left out of their will, if you were expecting to be a beneficiary. However, there may be some options available to you.
Make a Claim Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
If you’ve been left out of a will completely, not been left as much as you expected, or have received nothing due to the deceased having no will, you may have grounds to make a claim for reasonable financial provision from the Estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“the 1975 Act”).
Claims under the 1975 Act are particularly common due to the rise of second families. When a parent has remarried without making specific provision in a will for any children from their first marriage or relationship, any child that has been “left out” may need to make a claim for reasonable financial provision from the Estate.
If a couple is unmarried and share children, and one of the parents passes away without a will, their Estate will pass to the children and the surviving partner may need to make a claim under the 1975 Act in order to receive a share of the Estate.
Contest a Will
Alternatively, if you have concerns over the validity of a will you may have grounds to challenge it.
The grounds for contesting a will are broadly as follows:
You believe the testator lacked the mental capacity to make a will;
You believe the will was made under undue influence;
You believe the will was forged.
Contesting a will on the grounds of mental capacity can be difficult. Medical evidence showing that the testator lacked capacity at the time they made the will is required to support the claim.
Challenging a will based on allegations of forgery often involve the instruction of a handwriting expert to determine whether the testator’s signature is genuine. You may also need evidence from other witnesses regarding the preparation and execution of the will.
While there is no time limit for challenging the validity of a will, in order to make a claim under the 1975 Act, you will need to issue your claim within 6 months of the date of the grant of probate. We would always advise you speak to a solicitor at the earliest opportunity in order to understand your legal position and what options are available to you.
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