A parent, child, grandchild, or spouse may be left out of a will for a variety of reasons. It may be alienation from a family member, or the testator may have been forced to change the beneficiaries’ names. Whatever the basis for the disinheritance, there are measures that can be done to ensure the will is executed properly for the benefit of the testator and the true heirs of an estate or fortune.
Disputed wills and trusts make an already difficult situation more challenging. It can be confusing, as well. However, there are specific grounds for contesting a will, especially if you strongly feel that you should be in it. Below, we give details of what these situations are and how you can properly address each of them.
Lack of testamentary capacity
To be rendered invalid, it should be proven that the will lacks testamentary capacity. Testamentary capacity means the testator must have the legal and mental ability to write or alter a will. This is especially applicable to older estate owners who do not write their will until they are around 60 years or older. Some older testators may have Alzheimer’s disease, so they would not remember or be aware of what they included in their will. For a will to be considered valid, they must fully understand the contents and know the reason behind each inclusion or disinheritance.
It would be wise to contact the solicitor and/or the will writer to find out what the conditions were during the will’s creation and how it was made. You can also look into the deceased’s medical history, to see whether they had any health issues before signing their will. This will allow you to determine whether they had the mental capacity to comprehend and recall the information in the legal document.
Coercion, fraud and forgery
A testator could be influenced into making a decision that favours another family member over the supposed rightful heir. They could also be coerced into changing the contents of the will, defaming the character of an heir through inaccurate stories, and even constantly asking about the will to indirectly pressure the testator into including them in it.
It may be difficult to prove undue influence because the sole witness, the deceased testator, cannot testify anymore. As for fraud and forgery, it is best to seek the assistance of the police and a handwriting expert to determine the legitimacy of the testator’s signature on the will.
Lack of knowledge and approval
The testator’s approval and knowledge of the contents of the will make it a valid legal document, in addition to other factors. It will be rendered invalid if it was made without the help of a lawyer mainly because they are more qualified to know what the inclusions are in a legitimate will.
Other factors that the claimant could point out to consider the will as unacceptable are the physical conditions of the testator like deafness, blindness, and paralysis; illiteracy; and if the will was signed by someone else.
In case the will is invalid because of lack of compliance and requirements for not seeking the advice of a solicitor, the previous valid will (if any) can be followed instead.
Wills Act 1837
The testator’s will must be written and signed in front of two witnesses attesting to the validity of the signatures and the testator’s intent to establish a legal will. The witnesses must sign the document as well.
If the claimant left out of the will is eligible to make a claim but chose not to question the validity of the document, they can seek to obtain “reasonable financial provision”, under the Inheritance (Provision for family and dependents) Act 1975. The law seeks for family members dependent on the testator when the latter was still alive to be given a share of the inheritance. This is most especially advantageous for those who have been financially reliant on the testator.
You may have felt you were disinherited but, in fact, no will was ever executed. The intestacy rules introduced in February 2020 can dictate what happens to the deceased loved one’s estate and finances if they pass on. If the deceased dies leaving the spouse, children, parents, and siblings, it is the spouse who gets the whole estate, while the parents and siblings do not get anything.
If the testator dies leaving only the spouse and children, the former gets the first £270,000, half of the estate and the deceased’s personal possessions. The children will then receive the other half of the estate when they turn 18.
If you feel you should not be left out of your deceased loved one’s will, seek the advice of the contentious probate solicitors at Claim Experts. Contact them now to schedule an appointment.