We have written on numerous occasions of the danger of either failing to leave a will or of not taking professional advice when making your will. Among the difficulties that can arise with DIY wills are challenges by family members who have been excluded...
How to challenge a Will, or object to Attorneys/Deputies.
Sometimes, there may be grounds to challenge a Will, or make a claim against an estate or object to the appointment or conduct of an Attorney or Deputy.
The validity of a Will, and therefore whether its terms should be carried out, can be challenged, but only in certain circumstances.
To make such a challenge you would have to demonstrate either that the person making the Will did not really intend what was written in it or that it was not properly signed and witnessed by all parties. Alternatively, you would have to show that the person making the Will did not have the mental capacity to make the Will or that they had no knowledge or understanding of the terms of the Will and did not truly approve it. As a further alternative, you would have to prove that the deceased was under undue influence when making the Will and was effectively forced to make the Will.
If someone believes a Will does not make fair provision for them, or they have been left out of the Will entirely, what can they do?
If they are a spouse or former spouse (not re-married), a co-habitee, a child or treated as a child of the deceased or had been maintained by the deceased prior to death, they may be able to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act. Their claim would be for reasonable financial provision in all the circumstances. If they are successful, the Court can order a payment be made to them from the Estate, which will reduce the entitlements of other beneficiaries.
What if someone is behaving improperly as an Attorney or a Deputy, or you object to their appointment as Attorney or Deputy?
You can make an application to the Court of Protection to object to their appointment, or to have them removed or replaced, or have their powers restricted.
If any of the above circumstances apply to you, either as a potential claimant, as an Executor or Administrator or as an Attorney or Deputy, Harold Benjamin can advise you and represent you on any Court proceedings. Claims brought before the Courts are strictly time limited and, therefore, if you are considering bringing a claim, or an Executor or Administrator potentially dealing with a claim, we recommend you contact us as quickly as possible.
For further information and to obtain advice please contact: