Writing a clear and methodical will is one of the most important things we can do for our loved ones. Not only will it ensure that our assets are distributed according to our wishes, but it will mean that those we care most about will feel that they have been fairly acknowledged, as well as offering a fitting opportunity for closure.
Wills are, however, subject to stringent standards to ensure that your interests – and the interests of those closest to you – are being met. As a result, there are a number of reasons why someone may have to go through the process of contesting a will; below, we look at some of the most common.
1. You Are Writing It Under Pressure, or ‘Undue Influence’
While we would never expect our loved ones to push us into writing or amending a will in their favour, this situation can – and does – arise, and it will often lead to a lengthy and difficult feud between family members as the legitimacy of the will is questioned.
2. You Do Not Have the Mental, or ‘Testamentary’, Capacity to Write a Will
If, at the time of writing, you are experiencing capacity issues that prevent you from making sound and informed choices, such as dementia or a brain injury, then your ability to make informed and rational decisions can be later called into question.
3. The Will is Invalidated by Clerical Errors
Wills are subject to stringent regulations in order to ensure that they are valid. While clerical errors are incredibly unlikely if you are working with a solicitor to create your will, mistakes are common when DIY wills or will templates are used without sound legal guidance.
If there is a mistake in a will your executors or beneficiaries may be able to agree to vary the will or apply to the court to have it rectified. However, that is not always the case, and if a solicitor has made a mistake, then your beneficiaries have a legal right to claim compensation for any losses that occur as a direct result of that mistake, that remedy would not be available if you do not use a solicitor to prepare your will.
4. Someone is Giving You a False Impression of Another
This is also known as ‘fraudulent calumny’, and may be used as grounds for contesting a will if it can be proved that you were given false information about the character of another beneficiary (or potential beneficiary), and that this information influenced your decision as to whether you include them in your will.
5. You Haven’t Provided Fairly for a Dependent
If you do not adequately provide for your spouse, or you are providing a line of financial support or housing someone who is dependent on you, and the will does not reflect these circumstances, then that person may have sufficient grounding to contest your will. Even if your will is deemed valid, the dependent could be entitled to more than they were originally given.
6. The Will Has Not Been Updated to Reflect Changes in Circumstance
While it is very easy to fall into the trap of shelving your will as soon as it has been written, it will in all likelihood require further amendments, additions, and alterations over the years that follow. If not, it will lack the clarity and up to date detail necessary to avoid any potential disputes or disappointment among your loved ones.
Whether you acquire new assets, or your relationships change over time, it is important that you revisit your will regularly to ensure that it reflects your current wishes and circumstances.
Disclosure: This is a featured post.