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
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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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Estate planning and divorce – What you really need to know

Divorce is a very stressful time and there are many things that you need to think about. One of the most crucial things that you need to address as soon as you decide to separate is estate planning and divorce.

You may already have a Last Will and Testament, but you need to change it. If you don’t have a Will you need to make one. It is very important that you understand the law relating to estate planning and divorce.

There could be very serious consequences if you do not take the appropriate steps to deal with estate planning and divorce. You need to take act now to protect yourself and your children.

Often people think that they can wait until after the divorce to deal with estate planning. This is a common misconception, and it can be a dangerous mistake.

What Effect Does Separation Have on my Will?

The simple answer is that separation has no effect on the status of your Will. If you die whilst you are separated from your spouse your existing Will is still valid.

You need to remember that a divorce usually takes many months to finalise. It can sometimes even take years to settle. There can be a very long time between filing a divorce and the Decree Absolute being granted, so you need to protect yourself and your children during this time.

If you have a Will which leaves everything to your spouse they could inherit everything, even though you no longer live together. Therefore, estate planning and divorce is an extremely important issue.

You can make a new Will now which will be valid after the Decree Absolute. Divorce does not invalidate a will. By planning in this way, you can make sure that your wishes of what happens to your estate are updated.

What is the Effect of a Decree Absolute on an Existing Will?

A divorce decree does not invalidate a Last Will and Testament. This a very important point. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about estate planning and divorce. This is a particularly dangerous myth.

What happens when your Decree Absolute is granted? Any gift or appointment of your former spouse takes effect as it they had died on the day that your Decree became Absolute.

In plain language, this means that if you left your whole estate to your former spouse your back up plan will come into effect. If you appointed them as a guardian or an executor this appointment is now invalid. Also, if you left a gift to your ex-spouse this will go back into your estate and be distributed in accordance with the other provisions of the will.

Will the Laws of Intestacy Help?

Everyone should have a Will. If you do not set out exactly what happens to your estate when you die, then your estate will be subject to the laws of intestacy. Most people don’t understand the consequences of this. Some people falsely believe that their children will inherit all the money anyway. This is a dangerous misconception. Here is what would happen if you died intestate.

The first £250,000 would go to your spouse. It doesn’t matter that you are separated, nor does it matter that you are waiting for your divorce to be final. Prior to Decree Absolute your spouse will inherit at least the first £250,000.

If you have an estate worth more than £250,000, half of the remainder would go to your children. The other half of the remainder would go to your spouse.

Looking at the laws of intestacy your spouse gets either the whole or the bulk of the estate and your children could get nothing.

If you do not have any children your spouse will receive the first £450,000 of your estate. Consequently, your spouse may inherit everything. Unless you have a very amicable relationship with your soon to be ex-spouse, you probably don’t want this to happen!

Do you want to leave this up to the laws of intestacy? Wouldn’t it be best simply to make a new Will? At LegalWills.co.uk it takes about 20 minutes and costs £24.95.

It is Fine – I Don’t Have Much Money

Some people will not have an estate which is very large. However, you need to think about whether this applies to you. Do you have a house which is worth more than you think? Or perhaps you have a life insurance policy which will pay out in the event of your death. You could even win the lottery! Because of this uncertainty, it is never a good idea to simply think that you will not be affected the consequences of not taking care of estate planning and divorce.

You Need to Think About Guardians for the Children

It is essential that everyone who has young children makes a Will. This is not only so that you can make financial provision for them in the event of your death. You can also appoint legal guardians for your children in your Last Will and Testament. It may be that your existing Will appoints your spouse (if they are not the biological parent of your child). After separation, you may no longer think that this is appropriate if your spouse is not their biological parent.

If you want your spouse to remain as a guardian it is also important that you make a new Will. Remember that the effect that a Decree Absolute has on an existing Will. An ex-spouse is deemed to have died on the day the Decree Absolute takes effect. This means that the appointment of them as a guardian would be invalid. If you want it to continue you should make a new Will appointing them.

Beware the Housing Trap

If you own a house jointly with your spouse you must think very carefully how to deal with this. Making the wrong decisions, or bad assumptions can result in your estranged or former spouse inheriting the house even if you make a new Last Will and Testament.

If you jointly own a house it is most likely that you own it as Joint Tenants. What this means is that you each own 100% of it. Therefore, if you die and you own a house as a joint tenant it will not become part of your estate. The other owner will inherit automatically and whatever you say in your Will about it is irrelevant. It will not be part of your estate and you cannot give it away in your Will. If you have children and this is the only asset of your estate this could mean that your spouse or former spouse inherits the house. The children may get nothing from your estate if there are no other assets.

Other ways to jointly own a home

Fortunately, there is an alternative way to own a house. You can own the house as Tenants in Common. This means that you can each own a set percentage of the house. We don’t mean your spouse owns the upstairs and you own the downstairs! It means that you can specify which percentage of the house you each own. You can own it in equal shares or any other percentage that you want to agree on. This is known as owning as Tenants in Common.

If you own a house as Tenants in Common your percentage of the house will form part of your estate. This means that you can leave your share to whoever you want to in your Will. If you don’t have a Will it would become subject to the rules on intestacy and your spouse may inherit your share. This is why it is important to make a new Will!

When you separate, you should ask your solicitor how to make any necessary amendment to how you own your house. They can give you advice about how you can easily sever the joint tenancy. This is an easy step, but you must do it in the correct way.

Estate planning and divorce – In Conclusion

It is essential that you think about estate planning and divorce. If you don’t your children and loved ones could be left with nothing from your estate. You can easily fix this, but you need to take steps as soon as possible. Making a will is easy and not expensive. Do this to protect your loved ones and have your estate distributed the way that you want it to be

 

 

 

 

 

Want to write your own Will? 10 things to look out for.

Maybe a solicitor has quoted you a few hundred pounds to prepare your Will. Perhaps you are now considering whether you can write your own Will. You may be wondering “how hard can it be?”.

It’s entirely possible to write your own Will, but let us give you a few pointers.

Estate planning (the process of writing a Will) can be daunting. Many of us are prone to common, easily-avoided mistakes, if we get around to our Will at all. In fact, according to a report by the Legal services board, even solicitors who don’t specialise in estate planning frequently make mistakes with Wills.

The Law Society express concern that do-it-yourself Will services were eroding the Will writing business. They asked the government to protect Will writing. To make it a service that only solicitors can provide.

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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

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

10 terms you will learn when you write your Will

When you prepare a Will using our service, the final document will include many legal terms and unfamiliar language that we do not tend to use in our daily lives. There will be expressions like “testamentary dispositions” and you won’t find a layman’s word like “everything” instead the Will is going to refer to “all my estate, both real and personal whatsoever and wheresoever” which for most people would amount to the same thing.

Last Will and Testament

There are however 10 terms that there is no avoiding when preparing a well-drafted Will, and it is important to fully understand what they mean. They usually appear in this order in the Will;

Testator

This is simply the person Continue reading