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08-Aug-2017 09:40

Many states consider such clauses void as a matter of public policy or valid only if a will is contested without probable cause.

Will contests are more common in the US States than in other so this article mainly discusses American law and cases.

Read on to find out when a will could be challenged.

Reasons why you can challenge a will In the UK there are only limited circumstances when you can challenge a will. This can be for a variety of reasons, such as the person whose will it is (called the ‘testator’ in the jargon) was unduly influenced or coerced or because they did not have the mental ability to know what they were doing or because the will wasn’t signed or witnessed correctly.

Say a parent dies after a short second marriage and leaves everything to his wife, who in turn leaves it all to her children.

This may mean his children with his first wife get nothing and they may challenge the will.

A will may include an in terrorem clause, with language along the lines of "any person who contests this will shall forfeit his legacy", which operates to disinherit any person who challenges the validity of the will.SAVVY TIP: Most challenges using ‘undue influence’ as a reason are a result of concerns about a carer, neighbour or — sometimes — one family member putting pressure on the person.An increase in cases of dementia has seen a corresponding rise in the number of families challenging wills on the basis of a lack of mental capacity. Husbands, wives, civil partners, children and dependants can make a claim if they haven’t been left anything/enough in the will.As an alternative to court, we successfully use various types of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) such as mediation to settle cases at an early stage of a claim to avoid the delay and expense of court proceedings as well as the inherent stress that such proceedings place on individuals.As in any litigation, we know that the level of costs incurred by all sides involved is of paramount concern to clients.

A will may include an in terrorem clause, with language along the lines of "any person who contests this will shall forfeit his legacy", which operates to disinherit any person who challenges the validity of the will.

SAVVY TIP: Most challenges using ‘undue influence’ as a reason are a result of concerns about a carer, neighbour or — sometimes — one family member putting pressure on the person.

An increase in cases of dementia has seen a corresponding rise in the number of families challenging wills on the basis of a lack of mental capacity. Husbands, wives, civil partners, children and dependants can make a claim if they haven’t been left anything/enough in the will.

As an alternative to court, we successfully use various types of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) such as mediation to settle cases at an early stage of a claim to avoid the delay and expense of court proceedings as well as the inherent stress that such proceedings place on individuals.

As in any litigation, we know that the level of costs incurred by all sides involved is of paramount concern to clients.

To speak with a Contentious Probate Solicitor about disputing or contesting a Will call freephone or contact us online.