How to contest a will in England and Wales

As one of the UK's leading inheritance dispute solicitors we are frequently asked, 'how do I contest a will in England?'

Do I need a solicitor to contest a will in England?

Inheritance law can be complex, so it is always advisable to speak to a specialist solicitor just to make sure all the available options have been considered. However, there is no requirement to appoint a solicitor to handle the case.

Where court proceedings need to be issued most people do choose to use the services of a solicitor, but it is possible to pursue the case as a litigant in person.

Many people try to resolve an inheritance dispute themselves by negotiation and only if they fail to achieve their desired outcome will they then appoint solicitors.

We offer free initial guidance, so there is nothing to be lost in having a word with us at the outset. We are also able to fund cases on a No Win, No Fee basis and will be happy to consider whether we can do this for you.

How do I contest a will in England?

There are a number of ways in which you can contest a will in England and Wales.

1. You can contest the legal validity of a will

2. You can make an Inheritance Act claim

3. You can pursue a beneficial interest claim

We will take a brief look at each of these 3 ways of contesting a will.

Contesting the legal validity of a will

You can contest a will by challenging its legal validity. If a will is declared invalid then it will have no effect.

There are a number of grounds for contesting the validity of a will. These include:

  • Fraud or forgery
  • Lack of mental capacity
  • Undue influence
  • Invalid execution

You can find further information about the grounds for contesting the validity of a will here.

If the will is invalid then the last valid will previously made will take effect. If there is no valid will then the intestacy rules will apply.

Making an Inheritance Act claim

You can contest a will in England and Wales by making an Inheritance Act claim.

Under the Act the court has wide powers to vary the terms of a will. It can specify that people who have been left out of the will receive financial provision from the deceased's estate. It can also increase the amount that a beneficiary who has been named in the will receives.

To be able to make an Inheritance Act claim you must belong to an eligible category of claimant. Designated categories include children, spouses, partners and anyone who was dependant upon the deceased. Full details of the Inheritance Act can be found here

Making a beneficial interest claim.

This is probably the most legally complex way of contesting a will in England and in our view it is advisable to take professional advice, not just from a solicitor, but from a solicitor who has expertise in making beneficial interest claims.

There are various different types of beneficial interest claim. Some involve the legal concept of a constructive trust or a resulting trust. Another common type of claim involves the principle of estoppel. This is where a promise is made to someone which is not honoured. In the context of an inheritance dispute this often involves a promise that someone will inherit a property, but that person is then excluded from the will. You can read more about estoppel here.

How we can help you to contest a will in England & Wales

We operate a free legal helpline which you can call for initial guidance.

We will be able to tell you what funding options are available, including no win, no fee and defered fees.

Call us on 0808 139 1599. Alternatively send brief details to us at info@inheritancedisputes.co.uk