According to a recent poll conducted by Direct Line Insurance, a quarter of UK residents would contest a loved one’s Will if they were unhappy with the division of assets set. In 2018 alone, there was a 6% increase in people challenging probate applications and the most common reason for contesting a Will was found to be ‘undue influence’.
There are a number of ways a Will can be challenged, including:
- Lack of due execution – whether the Will itself is valid and has been executed properly;
- Undue influence – whether the person who made the Will was improperly coerced by someone into making a Will that they did not wish to make in the first place;
- Lack of capacity – if the person who made the Will was not of sound mind when it was made;
- Clerical error – if there was a clerical error in the Will, or the person who drafted the Will failed to understand their client’s instructions.
The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 allows a spouse, former spouse, civil partner, child or dependent of the deceased to contest a Will if they feel that they have not been left reasonable financial provision under the Will. This is becoming more popular, particularly for co-habitees who have lived with the deceased for at least 2 years prior to his / her death.
Although, in the UK, we have a right to decide how we want our assets divided in our Will, it is important to bear in mind that it is still possible to contest a Will on the above grounds. If you are thinking about contesting a Will, you should seek legal advice as early as possible to check whether you are able to submit a claim within the time limits. It may be possible to reach an agreement outside of court to reduce the potentially high court costs.