Over my dead body: Why 12.6 million Brits would challenge a will

Research from Direct Line has provided some fascinating insights into our population. Around 20% of the nation would challenge a will of a loved one if they felt it was not fair. I hope this post serves as a sign-post to some of the challenges which can be considered:

1. Undue influence? If you think someone actually exerted influence over the testator to make a particular will they otherwise would not have made, this can be a challenge to a will. This doesn’t necessarily mean a gun to the head, but Undue influence can be difficult to prove. 

2. Capacity? Whether someone has testamentary capacity, rather than a common-sense view of family and friends, is in fact a medico-legal question. There is a Golden rule of a medical practitioner reporting on capacity at the time a will was made if there is any doubt when making a will. 

3. Execution – there are strict requirements which must be met for a will to be valid. If in doubt you should speak to a professional as to whether the will is valid on this basis. 

4. Knowledge and approval – when someone makes a will, they must understand what they are giving and wanted to do so. So long as the will is executed correctly, there is a presumption they did understand it, but certain things can ‘arouse the suspicion’ of the Court such that it needs to be investigated. 

5. Reasonable financial provision for dependents and  family –  The Inheritance Act 1975 is a piece of legislation which means certain classes of persons enabled by the Act can challenge an estate if the Deceased has not made sufficient financial provision for them. Whether you are eligible to claim under this will require a technical analysis of both your circumstances, your relationship to the Deceased, as well as all others who stand to benefit from the Estate. 

6. Estoppel? Its a funny word, but basically it means if the Deceased 1. made promises about giving you an interest in land or house, and 2. you relied on that and suffered substantial detriment by doing so, it may be that 3. the Court would consider it unconscionable for the Estate to go back on that promise. This are very technical claim, but worth considering if the above ingredients are met. 

This is only a sign-post ! Do get in touch if you would like to discuss challenging a will. 

even when someone’s wishes are clear and current, more than 12.6 million Britons would go to court to challenge them if they felt the division of assets was inappropriate, according to Direct Line Life Insurance.