The simple answer is that yes, you can challenge the contents of a will if you believe it is invalid. The explanatory answer is that a will can be challenged for one or more of the following reasons:
- Lack of proper formalities
- Lack of capacity
- Lack of knowledge and approval
- Fraud or undue influence
Challenging a will can be complex. Learn about the different reasons for challenging a will from our expert probate team:
Lack of proper formalities
To be valid, a will must comply with the legal requirements under the Wills Act 1837. A will must be written and signed correctly: it should be signed by the person making it and the signature must be acknowledged in the presence of two or more witnesses at the same time, who can’t be beneficiaries or married to a beneficiary of the will.
Each witness must attest and sign the will, or acknowledge the signature, in the presence of the testator. It must also be clear that the testator intended that their signature give effect to the will.
If there is evidence that the will wasn’t made properly then the will can be challenged. Homemade wills can often be incorrectly witnessed and can easily be challenged, so please make sure to obtain legal advice if you are creating your own will.
Lack of capacity
Another reason for a will to be valid is that the testator must be of a ‘sound mind’. So, the person making the will must:
- Understand that they are making a will.
- Understand the effect of that will.
- Know the extent, value, and nature of their estate.
- Understand the consequences of including and excluding certain people in their will.
- Lastly, the person shouldn’t be experiencing any neurologic disorder such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
If you think any of the above apply to the testator, you could challenge the content of a will.
Lack of knowledge and approval
The person signing their will must know and approve the contents of their will. This can be challenged in cases where the testator is paralysed, blind, deaf, or illiterate and in cases where the execution of the will happened under questionable circumstances.
Fraud or undue influence
If a testator was manipulated, forced, or influenced in any way this can be a significant cause to contest a will. Unfortunately, the process of demonstrating fraudulent or forged wills can be a tough and long process when the evidence isn’t straightforward.
For help and advice on contesting a will, please fill out our online contact form and our team will be in touch.
At Scott Rees & Co we have the expertise to provide you with tailored advice on all aspects of wills and answer all your questions. We can also advise on related areas such as Powers of Attorney, Inheritance Tax and Probate disputes and more.