Can I contest my father’s will?

Contesting your father’s will

We are often asked, ‘Can I contest my father’s will?’ The simple answer is, ‘yes’. A son or daughter is entirely free to contest their father’s will under the law of England and Wales. We give details in this article of how they can go about it. For further guidance on contesting a will call our free legal helpline on 0333 888 0407, or send us an email.

On what grounds can I contest my father’s will?

A son or daughter who wishes to challenge their father’s will has two main options. They can either:

  1. challenge the validity of the will; or
  2. make a claim against their father’s estate under the Inheritance Act.

Although these are two very different legal approaches, you may be able to pursue both actions in tandem.

How do I challenge the validity of a will?

If you decide to challenge your father’s will on the basis that it is not legally valid then there is a range factors for you to consider. Did he have the required level of mental capacity to make his will? Was he coerced into making his will? Did he understand that he was making a will? Was there any fraud involved?

To have a will declared invalid requires persuasive evidence to be presented to the court. In the case of lack of mental capacity for instance, reference will usually be made to the deceased’s medical records. Other types of documents such as a correspondence, diaries or care home notes may also be relevant. Sometimes parties obtain a medical report from a doctor who is qualified to pass a judgment on a person’s capacity.

Making an Inheritance Act claim

If your father’s will is valid, but you feel it has not made reasonable financial provision for you then you may wish to consider a claim under the Inheritance Act.

Children are a category of eligible claimants under the Inheritance Act. Claims will be considered on the basis of the your needs, your financial position, the size of the estate and the finances of the beneficiaries named in your father’s will.

You can read here about an Inheritance Act claim we successfully resolved on behalf of a daughter who was not given adequate financial provision by her late father.

Bringing a beneficial interest claim 

A son or daughter may also be eligible to bring what is known as a ‘beneficial interest’ claim against their father’s estate where they feel they deserve a share of their father’s property. This might be because they have made a financial contribution or where they have been made a promise by their father which they have relied upon.

What will it cost to contest my father’s will?

Its always difficult to predict what the legal costs of a dispute are likely to be right at the outset. There are so many variables and the final figure will depend upon a range of factors such as the type of claim being pursued, the complexity of the legal arguments and, crucially, whether the claim is going to be defended.

In order to tell you what it is likely to cost we shall need full details of your case. If you let us have a summary then we should be able to give you guidance on what you might expect to pay in legal fees. If we take your case on then we will prepare a more detailed case budget for your approval based upon the specific facts of the case.

What are the funding options if I contest my father’s will?

There are several of funding options open to you.

First, there is the traditional hourly rate approach, where you pay us for the work we carry out based on the time we spend dealing with your case.

Second, we can often defer payment of our fees. This works well where you are due to receive some money from the estate once the estate is finalised. On this basis you only have to pay the legal costs when you receive your legacy.

Third, if your case has sufficient merit then we can work on a No Win, No Fee basis. This means that you only have to pay the legal costs if you succeed in your claim.

It is worth remembering that if you successfully contest your father’s will then the court could order his estate or the beneficiaries to pay your legal costs.

How do I make my claim?

If you want to contest your father’s will then we suggest that you contact our free legal helpline for a case assessment. Case assessments are provided free of charge and without any obligation on you to proceed with a claim. Simply send an email with brief details of your case to [email protected] Alternatively telephone us on freephone 0333 888 0407.

Can I contest my father’s will?