Invalidating a will uk
If your leaving a will or a relative of yours has left a will, it could be open to being contested or challenged.
The situations in which someone can challenge a will aren’t always straightforward.
Say a parent dies after a short second marriage and leaves everything to his wife, who in turn leaves it all to her children.
This may mean his children with his first wife get nothing and they may challenge the will.
SAVVY TIP: Most challenges using ‘undue influence’ as a reason are a result of concerns about a carer, neighbour or — sometimes — one family member putting pressure on the person.
An increase in cases of dementia has seen a corresponding rise in the number of families challenging wills on the basis of a lack of mental capacity. Husbands, wives, civil partners, children and dependants can make a claim if they haven’t been left anything/enough in the will.
While a number of family members have the right to challenge a will, there’s no guarantee that you’ll succeed. If your husband/wife/civil partner left all their money to charity or someone outside the family, the courts could intervene if they thought you hadn’t been provided for. A judge could rewrite the will if a dependent child wasn’t being provided for.
In England and Wales, we have complete freedom of testamentary disposition.
SAVVY TIP: Adult children with mental health problems or a mental disability who had been provided for by a parent while they were still alive would be able to make a claim, but an adult child with independent means would be unlikely to succeed. Legal action can be expensive and time consuming Taking legal action is never likely to be cheap, but the cost of contesting a will, particularly in England or Wales, can be hefty. Quite often the disagreements are not just about the will but are the culmination of a long-standing family feud.
This means that it’s even harder to reach a settlement.
SAVVY TIP: A number of solicitors will encourage both sides to use mediation to settle disputes about wills (as it’s cheaper and can increase the chances of reaching an agreement), but not all families will use it.
Mediation involves using an independent third party to broker an agreement. Sometimes parents can favour one child or cut close family members out of the will altogether, but unless there’s a reason why they should be provided for, there may be little you can do.