How to Ensure Nobody Can Challenge Your Will
Under English and Welsh law, an individual can give money, property and other assets to anyone they wish as part of their will. Sometimes, the contents of a will can be challenged following a person’s death by those who feel they should have been awarded more, or did not receive what they expected.
More individuals are opting to go to court to fight over the terms laid out in their parents’ or other relative’s wills, despite this type of case almost always being incredibly expensive.
Conditions of making a will
If you decide to make a will, you must be over 18, of sound mind and free of any undue influence, meaning that those who are set to benefit under your will do not become “too involved” in the process of making it.
You must also execute your will as required by law, in the presence of two independent witnesses who are not beneficiaries. They are asked to sign the document, but are not legally required to read the content. These signatures must be added to the will at the same time and with all three people present.
It is possible to set aside a will if it is proven that the person making it did not know, understand or approve the terms. This is referred to as a “lack of testamentary capacity”.
Cancelling a will
Your will can be cancelled in your lifetime, and will automatically be cancelled if you marry, enter into a civil partnership or execute a new will. In a case of divorce, once a Decree Absolute has been pronounced, your now ex-spouse will be deemed as having died before you, and therefore will not benefit from the will.
Choose your beneficiaries wisely
Looking at those who are benefiting (or not) under your will is also an important exercise. Is there anyone you have supported financially during your lifetime? This can be a current or former spouse or civil partner, some longer-term cohabitees, a child or any person that you have been treating as your child. These dependents have a right to continued support after your death, and if your will does not contain suitable provisions for them, they may bring legal action against your estate.
If you do decide to leave someone out of your will, it is important to leave a letter or statement explaining your reasons. This will be taken into consideration if the will is contested. This does not stop someone from making a claim against your estate but it will go a long way to showing a judge why you came to that decision in the first place.
The best option to make sure that there are no problems is to have your will prepared by a professional, such as a solicitor, who is well-versed in the various pitfalls. It will provide safeguards for your beneficiaries.
It is very easy to make a mistake if you try to make your own will. Sadly, such mistakes often mean that your beneficiaries face long and expensive legal battles once you have died.
Get in touch
If you are thinking about making a will, Percy Hughes & Roberts can offer simple, easy-to-understand advice to ensure all possibilities are covered. Contact us by calling 0800 781 3894, or fill out a “Quick Enquiry” form and we will get back to you.
Contact Percy Hughes & Roberts
To speak to a wills and probate solicitor for advice, contact Percy Hughes & Roberts for a no-obligation phone consultation today. We provide ourselves on offering expert advice that's easy to understand, and we will be with you through every step of the legal process.