Legally reviewed by: Siobhan Cribbin Updated: Wills & Probate

A Guide to Contesting a Will

Woman contesting a will

Dealing with a death in the family is not an easy time, and when it comes to the will, it’s important that the assets are distributed fairly and in line with the desires of the recently deceased. If you have any concerns regarding how the will was produced, you may have grounds for contesting a will. Our wills and probate solicitors can assess your case and if we believe there are grounds to contest, we will help you through each step of the process.

Grounds for Contesting 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 for contesting 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 the 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.

How Much Does It Cost to Contest a Will?

There is no set answer to how much it costs to contest a will. It depends on the specific nature of your claim and whether any costs can be borne by the estate, and whether the court finds you in favour.

The challenging party will pay the costs initially. However, the losing party may be ordered to pay the winning party’s costs. Sometimes the litigation costs come out of the estate, however, this is not guaranteed.

When paying for your claim there are several options which include:

  • No win no fee
  • Legal Expenses Insurance
  • Payment on conclusion
  • On a monthly basis

Our wills and probate solicitors will discuss your options to get the best outcome for you.

Who Can Contest a Will?

The person contesting a will should have a justifiable reason to do so. Therefore, the person must be a spouse, child, cohabitee, or a person who is explicitly mentioned in the will, or a previous will.

Depending on the reason you are contesting the will, you may need to be a specific person to the deceased. For example, to challenge the will for failing to make a reasonable financial provision, you’ll need to be a financial dependant and normally one of the following: a child, spouse, civil partner, ex-spouse who is yet to re-marry, or a cohabiting partner.

If the court deems the will invalid, the estate is divided by the court. Therefore, there is no guarantee you will receive anything. Usually, the court divides the estates in accordance with the last will, therefore you are only likely to receive something if you were named in that will.

If there are no living relatives left, the will go to the Crown.

Can a Will Be Overturned After Probate?

Yes, if you succeed in proving the will is invalid, you can overturn it after probate. It should be noted that contesting a will at this stage can prove complicated. Therefore you will need the legal expertise of a solicitor to help reduce the risk of incurring costs. Additionally, the longer the process is delayed, the increased likelihood there is of the assets being distributed. Therefore, it is important to act fast and get the help of a wills and probate solicitor as soon as you can.

Is There a Time Limit for Contesting a Will?

It is very important to get legal advice as soon as possible if you wish to contest the will or bring a claim against an estate.

Contesting the Validity of the Will

To contest the validity of the will, there is no strict time limit. However, it’s important to act quickly as the process is made harder once the estate assets have been distributed.

Claim for Rectification of the Will

If you wish to claim for rectification of the will under section 20 of the Administration of Justice Act 1982, you have 6 months from the date of the grant of probate to issue your claim to the court.

Claim Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975    

For a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975, for a reasonable financial provision, you have 6 months from the date of the grant of probate to issue your claim to the court.

How to Contest a Will?

To contest a will, you will ideally enter a ‘caveat’ with the Probate Registry. This gives 6 months to determine whether you have reasonable grounds to challenge the will. This can be extended. Executors will have the right to lodge a ‘warning’ to the Probate Registry. If this happens, you may wish to substantiate your caveat through what’s known as an ‘appearance.’ Doing so means the matter would have to be resolved by an Order of the Court.

If you are thinking about disputing a will, it’s important to seek legal advice from our team of expert wills and probate solicitors as soon as possible. The time limits for different claims can be short, so acting quickly will assure you don’t lose the right to make a claim.

Usually, the disputes can be resolved out of court, with the help of mediation. However, if you do have to go to court our solicitors will support you through each step of the process.

Can Wills be Contested on Behalf of Someone Else?

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.

How to Get a Copy of the Will Before Probate?

Viewing a will before it goes to probate can be difficult if you are not a named Executor.  However, there are options that our solicitors can help you explore:

  • Write to the executors of the will. If our solicitors deem you have a legitimate claim to the will, you can send a written request to the executors.
  • Apply through the courts. Our solicitors can advise you who is entitled to view the will after the death, letting you know if you have grounds to contest it through the courts.
  • Lodge a ‘caveat’ with the Probate Registry. Entering a caveat with the Probate Registry before probate has been issued provides a way to challenge the will. If the executors choose to not escalate the dispute to a warning, they might let you receive a copy of the will before the probate.

How Long Does It Take to Receive Inheritance After Probate?

It usually takes around 6 months after the grant of probate has been issued. After the probate has been granted any beneficiaries will receive their inheritance. However, it is not uncommon for this to be longer. If you are contesting a will this will take longer due to delays in the process.

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.