Edward Hands and Lewis is now a nationally-acclaimed body. For over a hundred years Edward Hands and Lewis has been an established solicitors in the Leicestershire area, but now we have branched out across the UK.
Challenges to a Will
During a period of heightened emotion, it can come as a shock to discover that the Will may not distribute the estate as expected. This may have been a considered choice by the deceased and properly reflect their wishes, in which case they may well be honoured, but in some cases there may be reason to challenge this.
If you have the original Will check the validity
If you have the original copy of the Will (with their original signature, not a photocopy), then this may still not be valid.
Under English Law, a Will must be:
i) Signed by the person making the Will
ii) In the presence of two independent witnesses (not beneficiaries)
iii) Those witnesses also sign, in the presence of the person making the Will
If any of these did not occur it may be invalid.
The person making the Will (“the testator”) must have sufficient mental capacity to do so. This means that they need to understand what is within their estate. They also need to understand the contents of their Will and who they are leaving their estate to.
There should be no question of undue influence on the person making the Will, if there is it may not be valid. This is usually the “hunch test” that family members have; an impression that another family member may have influenced the testator in some way.
Thinking about challenging a Will?
i) You can only dispute a Will after the death of the testator
ii) You cannot challenge a Will simply because you perceive it to be unfair; you need to have a claim (either that it is invalid as above, or a claim under the Inheritance Act)
iii) The effect of a Will being invalid is that the estate will be administered under the intestacy rules.
iv) This is a formal dispute; whilst we will deal with any grievance professionally, it is a sensitive issue for families to deal with.
A Will is a private document and only becomes a matter of public record once Probate is applied for by the executors. At this point, the Will is presented to the courts. You may need to take steps to protect your position before you can check the Will itself. It may be possible to seek an order for the Will to be disclosed prior to Grant of Probate, if there are sufficient grounds to challenge the validity.
In most circumstances, the first step to take is to register a “Caveat” to stop the Grant of Probate (if Probate is granted the estate can be distributed) and at the earliest possible opportunity. This can be done quickly and inexpensively, and provides you with the time to consider your options. You can also register a request that you be notified when Probate is granted.
At Edward Hands and Lewis we pride ourselves on our quick response time and there are several ways you can get in touch, whatever the method, we will make sure we get back to you as soon as we can and get to work on your case.
We offer a free initial assessment so you know that you have found the right people for the job. Contact us and no matter what your enquiry is about, we will find the right person to deal with your case.
We make our prices fully transparent so our clients know exactly what they’re paying for throughout the process. We also offer fixed-fee services so you know the full costs from the outset.
Our solicitors are approachable and helpful and understand that legal undertakings can be incredibly stressful. We pride ourselves on excellent client service which has been recognised year on year by our Lexcel accreditation.
We know you may not be available within standard working hours, which is why we make ourselves available for out of hours appointments.
At Edward Hands and Lewis several of our specialists are multi-lingual in the following languages: Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati, Serbo-Croation, French, Italian, German, Swedish. For any other languages, the services of translators may be appropriate.
At Edward Hands and Lewis we have an award winning team to deliver legal services to you. Our solicitors and support teams have won awards for their expertise and business acumen and continue to deliver excellence in the profession.