45% of Britons Don’t Know How to Contest a Will

how to contest a will
Legally reviewed by: Siobhan Cribbin In: Wills & Probate

A recent survey has uncovered notable knowledge gaps among the general public, particularly in younger age groups, when it comes to how to contest a will.

The findings of the survey indicate that although 86% of individuals aged 45-59 possess a fundamental understanding of contesting a will, only 55% are aware of the specific grounds required to contest a will. Additionally, only 36% of respondents in this age group are familiar with the time limit associated with the contesting process. Surprisingly, only half (50%) of individuals in this age range have actually created a will.

The lack of knowledge surrounding wills and probate puts a particular segment of the population at risk of incurring higher costs when it comes to estate division. Insufficient planning may lead to increased taxation and a higher likelihood of a contentious probate process, resulting in unnecessary expenses for the deceased’s loved ones.

Age Group Divide of Individuals Unaware of the Necessary Grounds to Contest a Will


The survey findings indicate that individuals aged 60-74 exhibit a better understanding of the probate process, with 73% having a will and 90% comprehending the concept of contesting a will. However, a significant proportion (43%) remain unaware of the necessary grounds to contest a will, and 62% are unfamiliar with the associated time limit.

Over 75s

Among Britons aged 75 or over, 88% have a will and 75% understand the implications of contesting a will. Nevertheless, 60% lack knowledge about the grounds for contesting a will, and 85% are unaware of the applicable time limit.


The youngest respondents in the survey, aged 18-29, displayed the lowest level of knowledge about the wills process. Only 24% of this age group have a will, while 72% understand what contesting a will means. Notably, 58% have limited knowledge of the grounds for contesting a will, and 50% are unfamiliar with the time limit for doing so.

Grounds to Contest a Will

If you have been left out of a will, have not received as much as you expected, or believe the will is wrong, you may have grounds to contest a will.  This includes if:

  • The will was invalid in some way. This may be because the deceased lacked the mental capacity to make the will.
  • Alternatively, the deceased may have been improperly influenced by someone or the will might not have been signed or witnessed.
  • The will was forced.
  • You were not properly provided for in the will and were financially dependent on the deceased. In these cases, our wills and probate solicitors can help you make a claim under the Inheritance Act.
  • The deceased promised you something before they died that is not in the will.
  • Someone has requested the Court of Protection to make a statutory will for a person who lacks mental capacity, and you don’t think it would reflect their wishes.

If you are unsure whether you have grounds to contest a will, our wills and probate solicitors can assess your situation and inform you of the next steps to make.

Who Can Contest a Will?

Contesting a will requires a valid reason and a specific relationship to the deceased. Eligible individuals to contest the will include spouses, children, cohabiting partners, explicitly named beneficiaries, or those mentioned in a previous will.

The eligibility criteria may vary depending on the grounds for contesting the will. For instance, if you are seeking to challenge the will based on inadequate financial provision, you typically need to be a financial dependent and fall into specific categories such as a child, spouse, civil partner, ex-spouse who has not remarried, or a cohabiting partner.

It’s important to note that contesting a will does not guarantee receiving an inheritance. If the court declares the will invalid, the estate will be distributed according to the court’s decision. Typically, the court follows the provisions outlined in the last valid will, meaning you are likely to receive a share only if you were specifically named in that will.

In cases where there are no surviving relatives or eligible claimants, the estate may pass to the Crown.

Can You Overturn a Will After Probate?

Successfully proving the invalidity of a will allows you to overturn it after probate. However, it is crucial to understand that contesting a will at this stage can be complex. To minimise the risk of incurring unnecessary costs, it is advisable to seek the legal expertise of a solicitor. Acting swiftly is essential, as any delays in the process increase the likelihood of assets being distributed. Therefore, it is important to promptly engage the services of a skilled wills and probate solicitor to guide you through the process.

How to Contest a Will?

Contesting a will involves several steps to ensure your claim is properly addressed. Initially, it is advisable to file a ‘caveat’ with the Probate Registry, providing a period of 6 months to assess the validity of your grounds for challenging the will. This timeframe can be extended if necessary. Executors have the option to submit a ‘warning’ to the Probate Registry, prompting you to substantiate your caveat by initiating an ‘appearance’ procedure, which requires the intervention of the Court for resolution.

If you find yourself considering a will dispute, it is crucial to promptly seek legal advice from our team of experienced wills and probate solicitors. Time limits for making claims can be restrictive, so taking immediate action will help safeguard your right to pursue a claim.

In many cases, disputes can be resolved amicably outside of court through mediation. However, should the need arise to proceed to court, our solicitors will provide unwavering support throughout the entire process, guiding you every step of the way.

It is possible for a will to be contested on behalf of someone else. However, this depends on the individual circumstances of the case. Our wills and probate solicitors can discuss the specifics of your case if this is something you require help with.

For a full guide on how to contest a will please view our article here.

Contesting a Will with Cartwright King Solicitors

At Cartwright King, our wills and probate solicitors’ team will deal with your disputes with sensitivity and efficiency. Contesting a will can be a difficult matter made even more challenging due to its personal nature. Our expert solicitors will guide you through every step of the process with compassion, providing tailored legal advice to resolve your dispute.

Legal Disclaimer.

All advice is correct at time of publication.