The law pertaining to the writing of a Last Will and Testament is described in the Wills Act, originally written in 1837. It describes the requirements for a Will, and how the document must be signed. Some minor changes to the law have been incorporated over the years, but the Wills Act remains fundamentally unchanged for nearly two centuries.
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.
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.
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.
We get this question a lot “Can you let me know how to make a Will for my parents, or an elderly neighbour?”. You may have a friend or family member who needs a Will, but they are not very good with computers. You have heard horror stories about the blank DIY Will Kits and how they don’t produce quality final documents. Surely there must be another option.
Let’s be clear from the outset. The person that you intend to prepare the Will for must have testamentary capacity. It’s one thing for them to not like computers, but if they are struggling with a cognitive illness like dementia or Alzheimer’s, then this is a non-starter. The person must know that they are working with their Last Will and Testament, they must understand the contents of that document, and they must appreciate the implications of what they are signing.
We would also recommend steering away from this approach if you are planning on making yourself a beneficiary in the Will. Particularly if other people have an expectation that they will be beneficiaries, but are going to be disinherited. For example, if you are one of three siblings, and you want to help your elderly mother prepare her Will leaving everything to yourself, there is a good chance that the Will is going to be challenged and ultimately rejected by the courts. Likewise, if you are a care provider and planning to include yourself as a beneficiary, we would not recommend taking this approach. Continue reading →
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.
I’d like to start by defining some terms. An Online Will service allows you to step through an interactive interview on the internet, at the end of which a document is generated. This document should then be printed and signed in the presence of two witnesses to create a legal Last Will and Testament. There is no such thing as an “online Will” – any digitally stored or scanned document is not legally admissible to probate. A document created through an online Will service still needs to be printed and signed to make it legal.
A DIY Will Kit is a blank form kit that you might buy from Amazon, or WHSmiths. It is generally a form with some typed clauses and white spaces for you to handwrite your details. They sometimes come with a disk that lets you type in your answers.