5 Things to Expect When You Contest a Will

Nobody can prepare you for the moment when a loved one’s will is brought to light, and it fails to live up to your expectations – or any promises that were made.

It’s a situation very few expect to find themselves in, but disputing the validity or fairness of a will isn’t as uncommon as you might think. Each year, contesting a will solicitors work on a wide variety of cases, from issues pertaining to the testator’s testamentary capacity (their ability to state their own wishes), to cases involving fraudulence, coercion, and undue influence.

Most of the time, contesting the will is the only option available. Here are 5 things to be aware of before you start the process.

1. There are a lot of different options for funding

Contesting a will takes time, and can involve a drawn-out court case that gives rise to considerable legal fees. This is, of course, something that you will want to consider very carefully before you begin this undertaking. Your solicitor will ensure you’re aware of the projected costs, and be the best person to talk to about your options for funding the proceedings.

From ‘no win, no fee arrangements, which ensure you only pay for legal services if your case succeeds, to deferred fees or damages-based agreements, there are a lot of ways to approach the cost of contesting a will.

2. It can make grieving harder

The trouble with a will that fails to live up to expectations is the fact that you’re only going to find out about it once you’re already grieving. The confusion, sadness and unpleasant surprise can serve to highlight your loved ones’ absence, and force you to confront that loss all the more acutely.

Learning how to navigate your grief will be a key part of going through this process.

3. You’re working against the clock

Anyone who feels compelled to contest a will needs to respond quickly. While there’s no rigid time limit on contesting a will’s validity, things get significantly more complicated if you try to raise an issue after the testator’s estate has been sorted and distributed.

Acting quickly and making contact with a solicitor should be done as soon as possible so that the wheels can start turning, and you can review the options available to you.

4. Sides may start to form

It’s unlikely that your whole family will be on the same page when it comes to contesting the will. In extreme cases, you may be making accusations against one (or more) members of your extended family – but, even in less divisive circumstances, it’s common for once-strong family units to be put under strain during the process.

If your concerns about your inheritance are relatively minor, then it’s often best to go through mediation and try to resolve the issue out of court. Not only can you save money on legal proceedings, but you can also preserve your relationships and avoid a great deal of stress. 

5. It can be the only way to feel closure

Nothing can erase the pain of finding that your loved one’s will didn’t meet expectations, whatever the reason behind it. Some people will inevitably find it easier to move on than others but, in many cases, this just isn’t possible. The only way to get that closure – and ensure the financial safety net you may have been depending on – is to contest the will.

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