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Disputing a Will in the UK: Grounds, Costs, Proof, and Duration

a family arguing over a will

Disputing a will in the UK can be a complex and sensitive matter. Understanding the grounds for contesting a will, the costs involved, the required proof, and the timeline can help you navigate this process effectively. In this guide, we will provide you with clear and concise information to assist you in disputing a will. Please note that this guide is for informational purposes only and should not replace legal advice. Consulting a solicitor experienced in probate law is essential for your specific case.

What are the grounds for disputing a will in the UK?

There are several grounds on which you can potentially dispute a will in the UK. These include, but are not limited to:

Lack of testamentary capacity: If the deceased person (testator) was mentally incapable of understanding the nature and effect of making a will, it may be grounds for challenging its validity.

Undue influence: If it can be proven that the testator was coerced or unduly influenced by someone when making or amending the will, it may be contested.

Fraud or forgery: If there is evidence to suggest that the will was fraudulent or forged, it can be challenged.

Improper execution: If the will does not meet the legal requirements for proper execution, such as the presence of witnesses, it may be disputed.

Lack of knowledge and approval: If there are doubts regarding whether the testator had knowledge of and approved the contents of the will, it can be contested.

How much does it cost to contest a will in court in the UK?

The cost of contesting a will in court can vary depending on several factors, such as the complexity of the case, the involvement of legal professionals, and the duration of the proceedings. It is advisable to consult with a solicitor to obtain an estimate of the costs specific to your situation. In some cases, legal fees may be covered by legal insurance.

What proof do you need to contest a will?

To contest a will, you will need to provide credible evidence supporting your claim. The type of proof required may vary depending on the grounds you are relying upon. Generally, the following types of evidence may be helpful:

a. Medical records and expert testimony to establish lack of testamentary capacity.

b. Documentation or witness statements demonstrating undue influence or coercion.

c. Handwriting analysis or forensic examinations to identify potential fraud or forgery.

d. Witness statements or other evidence to prove improper execution.

e. Any relevant documentation or evidence that questions the testator's knowledge and approval of the will.

It is crucial to gather and organise all relevant evidence to support your case effectively.

How long does contesting a will take?

The duration of contesting a will can vary significantly based on the complexity of the case, the court's schedule, and any potential negotiations or settlements reached between parties involved. It is challenging to provide an exact timeframe, as some cases can be resolved within a few months, while others may take several years. Consulting with a solicitor can provide you with a better estimate based on the specifics of your case.

In summary, disputing a will in the UK requires a thorough understanding of the grounds, costs, proof requirements, and duration involved. This guide has provided you with a broad overview of these aspects, but it is crucial to consult a solicitor to obtain personalised advice tailored to your situation. They can guide you through the process, represent your interests, and ensure compliance with the relevant legal procedures. Remember, professional legal advice is invaluable when facing such complex matters.

If you’re looking to write your will or lasting power of attorney book an appointment with Joshua Young. I am A Will Writer covering Farnborough, Basingstoke, Camberley, Aldershot and the surrounding areas.


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