Is it worth contesting a Will?
 
It is worth contesting a Will, if you believe that you should have inherited from it. However, it is advised that you should only contest a Will when you have a legal reason to do so. 
 
It must be said that it is not a legal requirement to leave anything to anyone when you die. As such, the fundamental principles of writing a Will are that the wishes of the deceased are respected even if it's not what family and friends expected. Therefore, even an unequal distribution of an estate is not a ground for challenging a Will. 
 
Do you need a reason to contest a Will?
 
Yes, there needs to be a legal reason to contest a Will.  Basically, you can contest a Will if you think that the Will is invalid or it does not make “reasonable financial provision” for someone who was “financially maintained” by the deceased before they died. 

On what grounds can you contest a Will in the UK?
 
There are several grounds for contesting a Will and showing that it is invalid. These include the following:
 
- Lack of testamentary capacity
- Undue influence or coercion
- Lack of knowledge and approval
- Wills Act 1837
- Forgery and fraud
 
Lack of testamentary capacity
 
This is where the person who died did not have sufficient mental capacity to draw up the Will and was not of “sound mind, memory, and understanding”. 
 
In other words, they did not fully appreciate the gravity of their decisions and were not able to grasp the full extent of including or excluding certain people from their Will.
 
Undue influence or coercion
 
If a person puts pressure or forces someone to write a Will or alter it for their benefit, this is known as “Undue influence”. 
 
However, this is often difficult to prove unless there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that someone overpowered the person who died.
 
Lack of knowledge and approval
 
A person must have understood and approved the contents of the Will for it to be valid. It is normally presumed that the person writing the Will has the necessary capacity to write it. 
 
However, in some circumstances a court may require evidence to prove that knowledge and approval was given if disputed by showing the person writing the Will:
 
- Was deaf and/or dumb
- Could not write or was paralysed
- Was blind or illiterate
- Did not sign it
 
When there is suspicion that the person making the Will did not know or approve of it, the onus is on the people who think it is valid to prove it.
 
Wills Act 1837
 
A valid Will complies within Section 9 of the Wills Act 1837 and must:
 
- Be in writing and signed by the person making the Will
- Be witnessed by two people whilst the Will maker signs it 
- The witness signs having seen the Will maker sign the Will or signs in the knowledge that it is the Will maker’s signature with the intention of making a valid Will
 
Forgery and Fraud
 
If the entire Will or signature of the person who made the Will is forged, the Will is fraudulent.
In addition, the Will can also be fraudulent if it has not been executed in accordance with the person’s wishes.
 
If you are unsure whether you have grounds to contest a Will, it is advised that you seek legal advice. Please do not hesitate to contact us to see how we can assist you.

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