Experiencing the death of a family member or other loved one is extremely difficult, and the stress of this can be exacerbated if there is a dispute regarding a Will. You may find yourself in the position of having been unfairly left out of a Will, or acting as an executor when someone else challenges the provisions of a Will. The specialist Wills and Estate Planning Solicitors at Wilford Smith can provide you with straightforward advice, clear of complex legal terms, and support you in relation to any contested Will. Call us today to find out how we can help.
What happens if a person is left out of a Will?
People can be left out of a Will in a number of circumstances. This may be because the deceased person deliberately chose not to leave part of their estate to someone that might otherwise have expected to inherit, or because their circumstances changed and their Will was not updated to reflect this. It is also a common occurrence that a person dies without leaving a Will, the result being that someone who was an intended beneficiary is not able to inherit from the estate.
Certain individuals may be able to claim on the estate in circumstances where they have been excluded from a Will, or due to the deceased person not having made a Will. These persons may include:
- a surviving spouse or civil partner;
- a former spouse or civil partner;
- cohabitees (that is someone who had lived with the deceased person for more than two years as if married or in a civil partnership);
- children of the person who has died;
- people who were treated as children of the person who has died; and
- dependents of the person who has died.
What can be claimed from the estate will depend on the nature of the claimant’s relationship to the deceased person and the circumstances of the individual case. As a general rule, a spouse or civil partner will be entitled to a more generous provision. Other claimants will usually be entitled to a “reasonable provision”.
When is a Will considered to be invalid?
A Will is a legal document, and as such must conform to a set of rules in order that it be valid. There are a number of circumstances in which a Will may be considered invalid.
A Will may be invalid if it has not been signed properly. It must be signed and the signature witnessed by two witnesses who are not beneficiaries of the Will. If the person making the Will has a disability, and they are unable to sign the Will, the Will can be signed on their behalf whilst they are present.
If a Will is destroyed, or if it has been altered in some way, validity issues may arise. A Will that has been destroyed accidentally may still be valid, whereas if names of beneficiaries have been added or crossed out this may raise questions about the deceased person’s intentions. An experienced estate planning solicitor should be consulted in such circumstances.
If the person making the Will was not of sound mind at the time this was drafted, the Will may be invalid. If you believe a Will was written in such circumstances, you should seek legal advice to support the raising of such concerns. Evidence, such as medical records or a doctor’s report, will be required to support this.
If a Will was drafted or altered under undue influence, this can also result in the Will being held to be invalid. The court may set aside a Will after giving consideration to the relationship between the person signing the Will and the person exerting influence over them.
Contact our Will Solicitors in Sheffield and London
At Wilford Smith, we offer a complete estate planning service, including advice on contesting a Will. Whether you are contesting a Will yourself or an executor dealing with someone who is contesting, these situations require expert legal skills and knowledge in order to achieve a fair outcome. Our lawyers have helped many clients involved in Will disputes, and we have an excellent track record.
Our Estate Planning Teams are based in Sheffield and London, and advise clients throughout England and Wales. Contact us today on 01709 828 044 to find out how we can help.