Disputing a Will. What you need to know.
15 April 2021 by Lauren Hancock
Losing a loved one is difficult enough but what happens when you believe their Will does not reflect their true wishes? The periods of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic have made assessing the capacity of those making a Will, and ensuring they are not being coerced, an additional challenge. How can you ensure wishes are followed and should you consider legal action if you feel a loved one’s wishes are not? Following on from this week’s Law Society Solicitor Chat, Lauren Hancock from FJG’s Wills, Life Planning & Probate team has provided some answers to a few frequently asked questions around the topic of Will disputes.
Under what circumstances can a Will be disputed?
A Will may be disputed if it has not been properly executed, if it is believed the Testator did not have requisite mental capacity at the time the Will was made or if it is believed the testator was pressured in some way into making the Will. It may also be possible to dispute a Will on the basis that it has not made adequate provision for a particular person.
What reasons could enable the wishes in a Will not to be followed?
If it is found someone did not have the capacity to make a Will, was pressured into doing so or the Will does not make sufficient provision for a financial dependant, the terms of a Will may not be carried out.
Could the difficulties around remote signing and witnessing of Wills during the pandemic result in higher dispute levels?
Remote witnessing of Wills leaves the potential for dispute, for example in a scenario where a third party may be pressuring the testator from a position off-camera.
How could you defend a Will to ensure the wishes are followed?
As a Testator, having a Solicitor prepare your Will can be very helpful in protecting yourself to some degree from future disputes, although this does not prevent the possibility entirely. Preparing a Letter of Wishes to be stored with your Will, where the terms are such that they may give rise to conflict, can also assist in protecting your position.
Why should you use a Solicitor to draft a Will rather than an unregulated service or do-it-yourself kit?
A Solicitor will keep detailed notes of your instructions which can be relied upon should a dispute ever arise. In addition, a Solicitor can help guide you as to how best to protect your position should a dispute arise after you pass away.
For more information on legal updates and changes during the Coronavirus pandemic, visit our Coronavirus Legal Advice hub.
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