Can I Contest My Parent's Will?
Posted on 6th April 2020
The very fact that you are reading a Will means you have lost someone close to you, and as well as coping with the grief this loss causes, your life is probably full of additional stresses such as dealing with the deceased’s affairs, cancelling bills, informing banks and building societies, funeral arrangements and taking care of their home. MG Legal, your Wills and Probate Solicitor in Longridge, hopes to offer some guidance as to how to avoid the nightmare scenario of a contested Will but also how to go about it if the worst does happen.
When is a Will read?
Many people have a notion of the Hollywood style gathering in their local Solicitor’s office, with all possible beneficiaries waiting expectantly, some to be surprised, others outraged and a generally dramatic scene, after which everyone seems to receive their inheritance within moments. Oh how we love Hollywood.
MG Legal, your Wills and Probate Solicitor in Longridge, have never done this, nor is it likely any Solicitor you ask will have done so either. In reality, a Will is generally not “read out” but is Executed by the named Executor(s) who will usually be one or two of the closest relatives or family. After jumping through all of the legal hoops and obtaining the relevant authorities such as a Grant of Probate, it can be around six months until the estate begins to be apportioned and by the time the processes are concluded, it can be a year after the death of the loved one that the process is finished, longer if, say, a house must be sold and it takes some time for this to occur.
On a slight tangent, MG Legal’s property solicitors can help if you have a property for sale, or are intending to purchase- you can fill in our online form here for a quotation.
How does a Will come to be contested?
This is the nightmare scenario, and our Wills solicitors in Longridge will tell you that, unfortunately, it happens more than you think. Our team know the scenario too well: you have concluded the formalities of cancelling bills, informing banks and clearing their home, the funeral is done and you feel that there is some degree of closure at this point, at least the beginning of the end of the grieving process.
Because it takes a few months to acquire a Grant of Probate and for each potential beneficiary to hear from the Executor as to what they are, or aren’t, to receive, only then will it become clear if there are any disgruntled individuals out there. Promises might have been made and never enshrined in the Will, or they might have been misunderstood. One relative might be unhappy because they cared for the deceased for a long period of time but have received an equal, or lesser, share than a relative who was distant during the deceased’s final years. Genuine, or imagined, grievances can come to light and of course, unless a Letter of Wishes is also written, there is often little insight into the reasons for certain apportionment of the estate, the only person with true knowledge of the reasons being gone.
How do you contest a Will?
Because the Probate and Inheritance legislation is detailed, complex and above all, the process is emotionally charged it is highly recommended that you seek representation from a Solicitor. Time limits are very tight and you have only six months from the date of the Grant of Probate (or any other type of Grant of Representation) being issued to challenge the Will, it is likely at least some of this time will have elapsed before you found out about the apportionment of the estate.
Time is, therefore, very much of the essence and there are very narrow criteria on which you may contest a Will. One key point is under the Inheritance Act on the basis that there is not a “reasonable financial provision” for you as a former spouse or dependent of the deceased. Other grounds include Enforcing a Promise, which you will need to prove that the promise was made and that you will suffer detrimentally as a result of the promise not being fulfilled.
Also under this category falls the Contentious Probate where you can contest how an estate is administered, either as an Executor or Beneficiary, interpretation of the Will and also whether gifts made before the deceased died were valid.
A difficult process, not to be attempted alone
Whilst you are, in any area of Law, perfectly entitled to represent yourself and indeed, in the short term, this saves Legal Fees, MG Legal, your Wills and Probate Solicitor in Longridge does not recommend that you do so. We recommend that you instruct an experienced Wills and Probate Solicitor to assist and advise you in the matter and to facilitate an early and amicable resolution, rather than ending up at the end of a costly and embittered Court case.
The best way to avoid this situation for your loved ones
MG Legal, your Wills and Probate Solicitor in Longridge recommends that you draw up a comprehensive Will with our help. We also recommend that if there is any possibility of doubt arising after your death, a Letter of Wishes would also be most helpful. This can help to explain to relatives and friends why you have made the decisions you have and in the event that a dispute does occur, it will also offer guidance to the Court to ensure that your wishes are followed.
Should you wish us to do so, MG Legal can also name one of our Solicitors as an Executor, which can help to avoid any in-fighting or disagreements as to how the estate is dealt with.
Contact MG Legal, your Wills and Probate Solicitor in Longridge by phone, email or web-contact form, online, to discuss how we can help you. We offer our services on a fixed fee basis to ensure you have access to affordable and comprehensive services. During the Coronavirus lockdown period, we are also offering a variety of remote services and means of exchanging documents with you to conclude your Will as quickly as possible.
Get in touch with MG Legal and one of our specialist Wills and Probate Team will get the ball rolling straight away.
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