Leaving someone out of a Will may be a deliberate choice, but can also be due to changes in circumstances since a Will was written, or be the consequence of a mistake in how the Will was drafted. Those who are named in a Will are known as Beneficiaries, and in the majority of Wills these are the children and family members of the person making the Will, who is known as the Testator.
Wills can leave legacies to any Beneficiaries. There is no automatic way in which property must be left (in some countries there are forced heirship rules, which can result in land being divided between children). But what if you were expecting to inherit and either have not been included, or do not consider the position to be fair?
If there is a genuine error in a Will and all of those who stand to inherit are in agreement, then it is possible to vary a Will and correct the mistake. This is often used where there is a member of the family missed out by drafting error (often where there is a step child involved). There is no need to apply to the courts for this, unless children are involved, and it is the easiest, quickest and cheapest way to correct a genuine error on the part of the Testator.
Inheritance Act Claims
Where the other beneficiaries are not in agreement, you should consider whether you are entitled to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. This is for those who were financially dependent upon the deceased but were not provided for under the terms of the Will, either due to no provision or inadequate provision being made.
It is important to keep in mind a claim against a person’s estate for reasonable financial provision can only be made before the end of the period of six months from the date on which a grant of representation is taken out. You therefore need to take advice quickly if this may apply to you.
Challenge a Will
Challenging a Will is where there are grounds for believing that the Will itself is invalid. This could be where there is reason to believe that the person made the Will at a time when they no longer had the mental capacity to do so (in particular, with “deathbed wills” where the Testator may have been heavily medicated.
There are sometimes other factors, such as undue influence from another person, or even a risk that the signature on the Will is a forgery.
If you are in a position where you are unsure whether you are able to challenge a deceased’s will, contact us for a no obligation discussion.
The information provided in all of our blogs reflects only a narrative of some elements to consider on the topic. The blogs do not contain considered legal advice and should not be relied upon as advice. Please see our website terms and conditions for full details of our disclaimer. If you are interested in obtaining advice, please contact one of our lawyers who will be happy and able to advise you on your own particular circumstances.