In our previous blog we covered why you would contest a will, so now we’ll explore how to go about challenging it.
If you suspect a Will is invalid and you would like to challenge it, the first thing you should do is consult a solicitor with experience in Contentious Probate. This is not something you can do alone without professional help.
A solicitor will investigate the circumstances surrounding the writing of the Will and may enter a “caveat” at the Probate Registry to prevent a grant of probate being taken out in the meantime. A grant of probate is a legal document that confirms that the executor has the authority to act on the instructions in the Will.
It is important to act quickly to prevent the estate being administered in accordance with the Will and the deceased person’s assets being handed over to the people named in the Will.
Probate actions can be complex. There is usually a large amount of investigation work to be done before a claim can be formally issued. There are also pre-action steps that must be taken. In some cases the claims may be ready for a hearing before a Judge within 12 months, but if the estate is large and the issues are complex then it can take two or three years before a claim is heard. As a result, cases of this type often benefit from mediation at an early stage.
The costs involved in contesting a Will vary considerably and can vary greatly depending on the size and complication of the claims. Cases often cost around £5,000 up to the mediation stage but significantly more if a trial before a judge is needed. Once you’ve had a consultation with one of our specialist solicitors, they should be able to estimate the costs of your case.
If a Will is pronounced invalid, any previous valid Will made by the deceased will be admitted to probate in its place. If there is no previous Will then intestacy rules will apply so it’s important to establish if you would benefit from a previous Will or intestacy before pursuing the challenge.
It can be a hard, emotional time when a loved one dies, and contesting a Will shouldn’t be taken lightly. It can take many years, a lot of money, and potentially leave you with nothing for your efforts.
If you wish to contest a Will, or you just need some legal advice around Wills and Probate, our expert team of lawyers at Slater and Gordon can help. You can call us on freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online and we will call you.