When a loved one passes away, your first thoughts will be on grieving and mourning your loss. So it can feel like a nasty shock to find that their will does not divide up their estate in the expected way. You may feel confused, betrayed, or simply desperate to solve a financial dilemma that this has created. Contesting a will is not an ideal scenario, but sometimes it is necessary to ensure that the right path is followed. However, in order to be able to contest a will, you need to have sufficient grounds. In this uncomfortable situation, a good solicitor can help you navigate these choppy waters. At Whelehan Solicitors, we have many years of experience in helping bereaved families work through the process of loss, wills, inheritance, and the admin they entail. Here is our guide to the top five grounds for contesting a will.
- Lack of testamentary capacity – if the person making the will did not seem to be fully aware of what they were doing, you may have grounds to contest.
- Undue influence – this would apply if you believe the person making the will was pressured into making their bequests. For instance, if a carer had taken a lot of control of the person’s daily life, and then turned out to be a major beneficiary of the will, you may have grounds that the will is invalid due to undue influence.
- Errors in how the will was signed and witnessed – in order to be a valid legal document, the will must have been treated properly, formally signed and witnessed. If there are doubts about the correct procedure having been followed, you may be able to contest a will on these grounds.
- Fraud – this presents a variety of circumstances, from completely fake wills to the will maker being duped into signing a will under the pretense that it is another document.
- Lack of financial provision – anyone who is financially dependent on the deceased person should be provided for in their will. If this has not been done, it is likely to be possible to contest the will. If you are the spouse, civil partner, child, or anyone else who has been completely financially dependent on the deceased, and you have been disinherited, you could well have a case to contest the will.
If you feel you may have a case to contest a will, you should check that you can fulfil some vital criteria. These include:
- You have a valid reason to contest the will, such as that it is a forgery or the person was bullied into making it.
- You have evidence to back up your claims, such as medical history or witness statements.
- If you are contesting on the grounds of financial provision, you must have the legal right – ie you must be a spouse or civil partner / a former spouse or civil partner who has not entered into a new marriage or partnership / a child or grandchild / someone who was financially dependent on the deceased.
- You must contest the will within the time limit.
If you are considering contesting a will, get in touch with your solicitor. Contesting a will is a potentially costly and lengthy process, and the estate may not end up with enough money in it to pay your costs. It is worth getting some level-headed legal advice before proceeding. At Whelehan Solicitors, we can offer a specialist opinion on your individual situation, supporting you through the decision making and legal process with our friendly professional team. If you need an expert solicitor in Tralee, Ireland, get in touch today.