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How can I challenge a Will?

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A Will is a legal document which sets out how an individual (known as ‘the Testator’) wants their assets to be distributed after they have died.

Following a death, we are often contacted by people who are either:

  • not named as a beneficiary
  • receiving less than they were expecting
  • concerned that the Testator’s Will did not reflect their wishes

The starting point is to consider the potential grounds for challenging the validity of a Will, which include:

  • Lack of capacity
  • Undue influence
  • Lack of knowledge and approval of the terms of the Will
  • Improper attestation (i.e. the rules of execution have not been complied with)
  • Fraud and forgery

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (the 1975 Act)

Even if a Will is valid, there may be scope to argue that it does not make adequate provision for someone, so long as they fall within one of the specified categories of claimant beneficiary.

The Intestacy Rules

If someone dies without making a valid Will, they die ‘intestate’, and the Intestacy Rules determine how their estate is distributed. Whilst spouses automatically inherit under the Intestacy Rules, cohabitees do not. The 1975 Act allows certain people to bring a claim against the estate, and argue that they should receive something (or more) from an intestate estate.


Any claim under the 1975 Act must be issued within six months of a Grant of Probate (if a valid Will was made), or Grant of Representation (if the person died without a Will).

Who can bring a claim under the 1975 Act?

  • Any spouse or civil partner of the deceased;
  • Any former spouse or civil partner of the deceased (provided he or she has not re married/entered into another civil partnership);
  • Any cohabitee who was living with the deceased as husband and wife/civil partner for the two year period immediately prior to the deceased’s death;
  • Any child of the deceased;
  • Any person treated as a child of the deceased in relation to a marriage or civil partnership (but not a cohabitation)
  • Any person who was a dependant of the deceased immediately before the death.

What is reasonable financial provision?

This will vary according to the value of the estate, and the financial position of the claimant, and anyone named in the Will, or anyone that will inherit under the Intestacy Rules if a Will was not made. If the deceased gave reasons for not giving something (or more) to a particular person, they will also be taken into account.

Contact Us

If you are concerned about the validity of a Will, or think reasonable provision has not been made for you, get in touch with our Dispute Resolution Team. We can offer an initial no-obligation consultation to give you some initial advice