Can I Contest My Parent’s Will
When a parent dies, it’s upsetting enough. But finding out that you have been left out of their will can make a difficult time even more distressing, leading to many questions and doubt. When this happens, it is possible to challenge the will. There are a number of reasons that a parent’s will can be contested, as we will discuss here.
Incorrect distribution of assets
Rather than being left out of the will, it may be that the will is improperly administered. When someone dies, an executor is granted probate, which gives them the authority – and responsibility – to distribute the assets within the will as expressed by the deceased. If the executor fails to fulfill this duty in accordance with the law, then the distribution of assets can be challenged and if necessary the executor removed and replaced by usually a professional such as a solicitor who will administer the estate properly.
There are a number of reasons why a will may be invalid, for both technical and legal reasons. If it is believed that the deceased was not of sound mind at the time the will was made, or was coerced or manipulated into changing their will in favour of other individuals, then the will can be contested. Likewise, if the will is forged or does not meet the requirements laid out by law, for example if it isn’t properly witnessed, these are grounds for a challenge. Robinsons acted for the successful claimant in the forged will case of Supple v Supple.
Any creditor has the right to challenge a will to ensure that they receive repayment of a debt owed to them. This is the same if the creditor is the child of the deceased and no provision has been made for the repayment of the debt within the will.
In some circumstances, promises are made which can lead to the children taking actions in the anticipation that they will be recompensed in their parent’s will. Where this action was to your detriment then you will have a case to challenge the will. For instance, if you may have taken out a loan on behalf of the parent in the belief that the debt would be repaid from the assets in the estate.
Reasonable financial provision
Under the Inheritance Act 1975, children and partners are entitled to expect ‘reasonable financial provision’. However, while claims for maintenance from financial dependents are likely to succeed, they are less likely to where there was no financial dependence and where the children are adults. However, every case depends on its own facts and if you believe you may have a claim you should seek legal advice.
While these are the main reasons that children can challenge their parents’ wills or seek relief under the 1975 Inheritance Act, this is not an exhaustive list. There are also other circumstances where a will can be contested. If you believe that you may have a case for challenging a parent’s will, then our solicitors at Robinsons can help. We will assess your individual case, provide expert advice, and carefully guide you through the whole process.