Many people are surprised to learn that it is possible to challenge a Will. The grounds for a challenge are many and varied, ranging from technical deficiencies in the execution of the Will itself, to allegations that the Will was forged or otherwise produced fraudulently or by the exertion of unlawful pressure. By far the most common argument is that the deceased lacked the required mental capacity to make the Will. This is often combined with the separate ground that he or she did not know or approve of the terms of the Will. In all cases, the aim of the Claimant is to remove the Will from the equation, so that an earlier Will (or the Intestacy Rules where there is no Will) will govern how the deceased’s estate is distributed.
It is perhaps even more surprising that, even where the Will is entirely valid (or where there is no Will at all), it is possible to argue that the distribution of the estate should be varied to allow the Claimant some, or greater, financial provision from it. This option is open to a broad range of Claimants, from spouses and Civil Partners, right through to anybody claiming to have been maintained in some way by the deceased.
It is certainly possible to significantly reduce the prospects of a successful challenge to a Will or the way an estate is to be divided up, and it may not be as difficult as you might think, but getting expert help when making a Will is absolutely key to this.
If, however, you do find yourself on either side of a dispute about a Will or Estate, acting quickly in seeking the help of a specialist is crucial in this complex area of the law.