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The will can be challenged

Damon Parker, partner in leading private client law firm Harcus Sinclair, lists the reasons a will may be challenged.

A man and a woman arguing

As estates become more complex, due to complicated family lives and financial arrangements, the number of challenges to the will increases.

Challenges are also increasing because of the growing number of DIY wills and the use of poorly qualified and incompetent will writers.

So unless your estate is simple and your family affairs are unusually straightforward, appoint a will writing company such as Heritage Wills or a well qualified solicitor to assist you when you write your will.

Remember, if your will is challenged it will have particularly adverse affects on those people you wanted to benefit from your estate.

Possible challenges to a will

1. Challenges on the basis that the will is unfair:
Family Provision legislation provides for challenges on the basis that the will is not fair to family and dependents. The following people could potentially claim against the estate:

  • a spouse;
  • a former spouse who has not re-married;
  • a person with whom the testator/testatrix (the person who has written the will) co-habited as husband/wife within the past two years;
  • a child (even an adult one);
  • a child treated by the testator/testatrix as his/her own by virtue of marriage;
  • any other person who was dependent, wholly or partly, on the testator/testatrix.

2. Challenges on the basis that the will is not valid:
The potential challenges that could be made to the validity of a will include:

  • that the formal requirements for executing a will were not followed (a will must be in writing, must be signed and the signatures witnessed by people who are not beneficiaries, or closely linked to beneficiaries, under the will);
  • that the testator/testatrix did not have testamentary capacity when the will or codicil was made;
  • that there was undue influence on the testator/testatrix when they made the will (e.g. that they were coerced); or
  • that there was fraud or forgery.

A large number of wills are lost, and this causes stress, worry and often intense family arguments.  

Once you have made a will, put a copy in your Lifebox. Only you can access and amend documents in your vault.

When your death is confirmed, or when you give permission, your Lifebox can only be opened by the person you have nominated to have the second key. We suggest you select your executor or a trusted next of kin.

The second key holder can’t edit or amend documents stored in your Lifebox.

Update your will regularly or when your circumstances change. Ensure the most up to date version is in the Lifebox.

It is wise to register your will at the High Court or with a will writing company such as Heritage Wills.

For more information about wills visit the Law Society's guide on making a will.

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