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Challenge a Will

July 23 2018

There are rare circumstances in which a last will and testament can be contested. These reasons can vary from feeling as though you should have been a beneficiary, to fraudulent activity in the creation of the will. If this can be proved, under UK law you are permitted to contest a will. As an accredited solicitor qualified to deal with Wills and Probate in Leeds, Grahame Stowe-Bateson have created a list of the valid grounds which a will can be contested upon.

In the UK, one can essentially include anyone they want as a beneficiary to their assets; this differs to the rules of continental Europe. The following are brief guidelines to the valid reasons for challenging a will:
 
1. Mental State of Will Writer
The law states that the writer of the will has to be ‘sound of mind’. This means that any condition such as dementia or schizophrenia that affects the brain or mental state can invalidate the will. In addition to this, the writer of the will has to:
Be aware they are writing a will.
Understand the impact that inclusions and exclusions are going to have.
Understand the value of their estate (possessions/property).

2. Ethical, Lawful and Official validity
As it is a legal document, a will has to be verified and signed by two witnesses who are non-beneficiaries to the will.
Under these grounds, a will can be contested if:
It can be proved that the will was unlawfully put together.
If there is a significant sum of money, or valuable gift given to the person who helped put the will together.
Approval may not have been granted if one of the witnesses or those helping with the will knew more about the contents of the will.

3. Immoral Influence or Fraudulent Activity
Immoral influence refers to any form of verbal or physical coercion into writing or editing the will. Fraudulent activity can refer to a multitude of unethical behaviour. Some behaviours can include:
A beneficiary editing content of the will or faking a signature
Under UK law, lying can be classified as fraud. If the will writer (A) is untruthfully made to believe that a potential beneficiary (B) has wronged them by another person (C) and this has led to the disinheritance of (B), then (C) has conducted fraud and (B) could challenge the will. 
Of course, this would have to be proved under the guidance of a solicitor before an appeal can be approved.
 
4. Errors
Often, due to the nature and complexity of will writing, mistakes can occur. If there are accidental errors in the will that affect the passing on of estate, then it can be challenged. However, a court hearing may be called into play to conclusively decide what the intended meaning is.
There is a limited time frame to appeal a will. More details can be found in the Death and Bereavement section of gov.uk.
 
As previously mentioned, Grahame Stowe-Bateson provide a Wills and Probate service to residents of Leeds and West Yorkshire. If you require legal advice regarding lawful or unlawful inheritance, visit our contact page to find out where your nearest office is. 

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