Challenging a Will: What are the grounds for contesting a Will in the UK?

Have you ever been left out of a Will and thought that you deserved something from the estate? Do you think that family members have acted unfairly, or that a step-parent has influenced your parent? do you think that something suspicious may have happened to a parent’s Will? This article discusses the grounds for challenging a Will in the UK, and what specific factors contribute to a successfully contesting a Will.

Challenging a Will
Credit: 123rf

We are often asked the question “can your Wills be challenged?” Keep in mind that any Will can be challenged. If a loved ones did not receive what they were expecting from a Will, then they are perfectly entitled to challenge the Will. Typically this would be done through a Solicitor.

But very quickly, the solicitor will be able to tell their client whether they have any chance of success.

There are very specific grounds for a Will to be successfully contested, and we will describe these in this article. Let us start with what will not likely result in a successful challenge.

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Will writing service – what to look for in a Will writing company.

Every single adult should have a Will in place, but most do not. If you are reading this, you may have given some thought to writing a Will, but not sure how to get started. You have seen different approaches to writing a Will, but you are not sure which services offer a quality, affordable Will writing service, without questionable extras. Hopefully this overview will help you take the next step.

Why you need a Will.

A Will allows you to describe the distribution of your estate. It puts somebody in charge of the process, and it allows you to do things like name a guardian for your children, make charitable bequests and set up trusts.

If you die without a Will, the courts take over. Your family and loved ones will have to work their way through a court process that will eventually do the work of your Will, but probably not the way you would have wanted.

The courts will put somebody in charge of the process. Hopefully this is somebody with the administrative skills needed, and a person who has a good rapport with your family and your beneficiaries. They are going to have to work with the people you have left behind to distribute everything you own according to a legal formula. In the meantime your assets will be frozen.

Then your assets will likely be liquidated and divided according to the laws of “intestate succession”. If you are married without children, then it is possible that your intended distribution plan would match the intestate succession plan. But in almost every other case, your assets will be divided in a very strange way.

Dying without a Will Continue reading

The Mirror Will explained – What is it? and how do you make one?

What does a Mirror Will mean?

A Mirror Will is actually two Wills, usually created by spouses or partners, that names each other as the main beneficiary, with each Will having a backup plan in case both partners are involved in a common accident. It is one of the most common approaches for couples when preparing their Last Will and Testament.

A Mirror Will is very different to a joint Will which is one document that serves the needs of two people. Joint Wills used to be popular many years ago, primarily as a time saving tool. It saved the Will writer having to type out two very similar Wills, when only the main beneficiary was different.

Joint Wills were also popular in a time when the patriarch of the family was considered to own the assets, and a wife was thought to not have an equal claim over the estate.

However, in modern times joint Wills are rarely used. Attitudes towards asset ownership, and the efficiency of Will writing software means that there is absolutely no advantage in preparing a joint Will. But there are many disadvantages.

The main disadvantage of a joint Will is that it creates confusion when one partner writes a new document revoking previous Wills, and it becomes unclear whether both parties are bound by the terms in the old joint document. In general, joint Wills should be avoided.

Mirror Will

What are the different types of Wills?

There are a few other variations on the joint Will or Mirror Will. A Mutual Will is a pair of Wills that a made after a legal agreement is put in place to dispose of combined assets in a certain way. What makes a Mutual Will unique is that neither can be revoked (or cancelled) without agreement from both partners. There are many resources online that describe a Mutual Will as the same as a Joint Will. This is incorrect. Mutual Wills are extremely unusual, and are rarely the best option. Typically one person makes a standard Will, and then contractually ties the second person into an irrevocable Will. It’s a legal challenge waiting to happen!

The term “Reciprocal Will” can also be used in place of either a mutual Will or a Mirror Will. A Reciprocal Will simply means that the two documents have been written to benefit each other. Continue reading

Do I need a Will if I have no assets? Yes. A Will does so much more.

At LegalWills.co.uk, one of the most frequent questions we hear is “Do I need a Will?”.

When the answer is “yes”, we then hear the familiar response “But, I don’t own anything?”

If only things were that simple….

Do I need a Will?

British wealth

In 2014, the average net worth of a British adult was £147,134.  Now, depending on the equity built up in the home, if you remove that value from the net worth it still comes in at around £20,000. Therefore, even if you don’t own your own house, there could still be well over £20,000 that makes up a part of your estate after death.

According to the pension giant Aviva, most British middle aged people have typically built up private retirement savings and investments worth £53,793. Now, you might think that these figures don’t apply to you but equity can be found in unexpected sources from ISA’s to insurance plans and even the personal items you own within your house. Continue reading

Six common estate planning mistakes – getting your Will right.

Six Common Estate Planning Mistakes

Estate planning is a critical part of financial planning, but a task that often never quite makes it to the top of your To Do list. Having your final wishes clearly set out can relieve your loved ones of unnecessary stress and financial burdens. To help you along your estate planning journey we have listed 6 common mistakes that anyone can make when writing a Will.

Estate planning mistakes

Mistake #1: Assuming that Wills are only for the wealthy

According to a recent YouGov survey, nearly two thirds of the British adult population do not have a Will. Continue reading

An Executor for your Will – how to make the best appointment

How to Choose an Executor for Your Will

One of the most important estate planning decisions that you must think about is how to choose an executor for your Will. Surprisingly, many people do not give much thought to just how important an executor is. Often the task I given to a family member without much thought about whether that person is the best for the job.

An executor has a very important role. They will be in charge of administering your estate as efficiently and promptly as possible. It is a big responsibility to undertake. You really should give some serious thought about how you choose an executor for your Will.

What Does an Executor Do?

When choosing an executor for your Will it is important to realize what role means. The executor of a will has a number of important tasks: Continue reading

How do you choose an Executor for your Will?

How to Choose an Executor for Your Will

Are you struggling with the question of how to choose an Executor for your Will? The role of an Executor is a very important one. You need to make sure that you are making a wise decision. Your Executor will be trusted to take care of the administration of your estate after you die.It is a very important role. You really want to make the right decision when you choose an Executor for your Will.

Here are some questions that you should ask yourself when you are considering who to appoint as your Executor when you write your own Will.

What Does An Executor Actually Do?

It is important to understand what an Executor will actually have to do. This will help you to see if the people you have in mind for the job will be able to take on these tasks.  Put simply, the role of an Executor is to carry out the wishes of the deceased person and administer their estate. However, what exactly does this entail? It is very important to know what someone will have to do before you choose an Executor for your Will. Is your choice up to the task? Will they have time to carry out all the duties of an Executor? Continue reading

Estate Plan – the seven critical documents that you need

You may have heard of the term “estate plan”. Perhaps you know it has something to do with your Last Will and Testament. But what exactly is an estate plan and how do you set one up?

In short, an estate plan is a set of documents that allow you to control your health and financial affairs when you are alive, but unable to handle them yourself, and also take care of your financial affairs after you have passed away. There are five classic documents that form a complete estate plan, but two additional documents that we feel, in 2016, that you should add to round out your plan.

They key word here is “plan”. These documents all allow you to describe what will happen if you are unable to take care of things yourself. You name individuals to take on your responsibilities and provide them with clear instructions on what to do. Which means that you can only prepare these documents when you have full mental capacity. You cannot wait until you no longer have capacity. If this ever happens to you, through illness or accident, it is then too late to prepare any of these documents.

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Holographic Will – clearing up some misconceptions

You may have come to the conclusion that writing your Will with a solicitor is too expensive. You have thought that maybe you could write your own Will. But when you google the topic, “writing your own Will” leads you to all kinds of conflicting information. Eventually, you find information about the holographic Will, and have become totally confused.

Please allow us to help.

Background to the misinformation

The main source of confusion is of course the Internet. The problem is that laws pertaining to holographic Wills vary quite dramatically from one country to another. If you post to a law forum, to Quora or to Reddit, the whole World will want to chip in with an answer. The problem is that an answer coming from Canada, or the US, or from India, will not apply to UK law.

Holographic Will

Here’s a great example. A question posted on uk.answers.yahoo

Hand-written Will. Is it Legal? Continue reading

Naming a Guardian for Children – why you need a Will

“My husband and I are interested in creating a will. Our primary reason is to ensure our child’s care and safety. There are blood relatives that we do not feel are suited to take custody of our child. Can your service help us cover this concern in our wills? We need to name a guardian for our children.”

Guardian

Everybody needs a Will, but there is one group for whom a Last Will and Testament is invaluable – parents of young children. Writing a Will can offer you the peace of mind in knowing that your children will grow up in a loving and safe environment. A Will allows parents to make their own decisions about Guardianship by expressing their preference for who the Guardian for their children should be. A Will also allows parents to explain why their chosen Guardian would be appropriate for their child, and if all else is equal, the family courts will appoint the named Guardian in most circumstances. Continue reading

The Ten Best Reasons to Write a Will now

We know that most people have not written their Will. These people fall into two camps; the group who think it’s important, but haven’t got around to it yet, but hopefully they will write a Will at some time in the future. The second group are those who have the “why do I care? I’ll be dead anyway” approach. Although they’ve hopefully spent their life thinking of other people, they feel content simply letting their family and loved ones sort everything out once they are gone.

Unfortunately, they don’t understand that taking just 20 minutes now, can save their family from distress, acrimony, family feuds, and potentially expensive legal battles.

Surely I’m overstating the impact of not having a Will? Let me explain ten good reasons why you should write a Will today, based on our 15 years of experience in dealing with distraught family members whose loved one died without a Will in place.

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How to write a Will – 5 simple steps at LegalWills.co.uk

How to write a Will

How to write a Will at LegalWills.co.uk

Most people know that they need a Will, but according to recent statistics, as many as 30 million UK adults have not made a Will. According to this report; more than half of UK adults don’t have a Will, but only ten percent of those have not even considered it.

This report breaks down the numbers of people who do not have Will. Continue reading

Here’s a discount code for a Legal Will – 10 reasons why you won’t use it.

If you step through the service at LegalWills.co.uk, you can create a legal Will for £24.95. However, if you use the following discount code, you’ll get twenty percent off. You can have a legal Will in your hands in about twenty minutes for less than twenty quid. Everybody needs a Last Will and Testament, so what on earth would stop anybody from doing this?

In reality though, we know that the price of the service at LegalWills.co.uk is not your barrier to preparing a Will.

Here’s some things that may be going through your mind that could stop you from writing your legal Will right now. Continue reading

The Will kit: 20 ways that a blank form Will kit could lead to disaster

Why do I need to pay to create a Will using your service, when I can get a free one downloaded from the internet, or buy a blank Will kit from WHSmith for a couple of pounds.

We get this question a lot, and it is sometimes difficult for people to fully understand the difference between using an online Will writing services like the one at LegalWills.co.uk compared to using a blank Will kit.

To illustrate the difference, we have highlighted just 20 ways in which using a blank Will kit can lead to a disaster. Because, ironically, the simpler the Will kit, the more difficult it is to write a well drafted Will. You may find it interesting that these were culled from an initial list of 45!!

1. You don’t check where the Will kit came from and who created it.

Blank Will Kit

Before you download a free Will kit template, stop and think about who actually prepared the template. Nowadays anybody can set up a professional looking legal website for free using WordPress in about 2 hours. Continue reading

Will writing: the regulation of the profession.

There has been a great deal of discussion recently regarding the regulating of Will writing as a profession. On first glance it would seem strange that anybody can simply call themselves a “Will writer” and offer their services to prepare people’s Wills. So much so that the industry became quite competitive and aggressive, and we started to get accosted Continue reading

Can you use a sample Will to write your own Will?

Most people know that they need a Will, but many are put off by the cost of going to a solicitor, and the inconvenience of booking an appointment. Unfortunately, this leads people to resort to some poorly judged approaches to preparing their own Will – we are often asked if we can provide somebody with a sample Will, from which they can draft their own Last Will and Testament.

Sample Will

There are a few steps to this process and trouble at each step of the way;

Locating a sample Will

For the people who don’t contact us asking for a sample Will, most will simply Google the search term “sample Will” in the hope that they can find a Will template Continue reading

Writing a Will: why there is nothing to fear

Many people try to lead you into thinking that writing a Will is so complicated that only a qualified solicitor with years of training should attempt it. You have probably been told that attempting to write your own Will is only going to lead to misery for your loved ones. One of the most common scare-tactics is to compare writing a Will with performing surgery on yourself !

We have explained in the past that writing a Will is neither so complicated that it needs a professional, but nor is it so easy that you could just write one on a blank piece of paper. It is somewhere in between, and it is this mid-ground that LegalWills.co.uk tries to fill with its interactive online Will service.

So what makes a Will a Will?

The answer to this question hasn’t changed Continue reading

Writing your Will: 10 key steps to getting it done right.

We’ve been offering a service to help you prepare your own Will for 14 years now. To us, the task couldn’t be simpler. But as with anything that you only do a few times in your life, the process can seem intimidating. So we’d like to breakdown the steps involved in writing your Will. Hopefully after reading these pointers, you will feel less anxious and ready to finally cross this very important item off your To Do list.

Preparation

There are some important decisions to make before you start the process of writing your Will. Some of these require consultation with friends and family members. At LegalWills.co.uk we do not expect you to complete your Will in one sitting, but if you can discuss some of these decisions Continue reading

What’s the problem with blank Will forms? They don’t work !

We always position our service as a happy mid-ground between expensive solicitor fees and the blank Will forms that you can download from the internet or buy from WHSmiths. The finished product of using an interactive online Will service is usually identical to a Last Will and Testament prepared by a solicitor. After all, a solicitor doesn’t write a Will starting with a blank sheet of paper, they use what are known as “Will precedents” or clauses that are historically established, and are known to work. Most solicitors actually use “Parker’s modern Will precedents” and this is the exact same reference book used by LegalWills.co.uk.

Will forms

We’ve adapted the established Last Will and Testament clauses into an interactive online Will service. So how does the end result compare Continue reading