Have you ever had the experience of challenging a will?
Coming to the decision to contest a will is, for the overwhelming majority of people, a daunting experience. Wills are not something with which many of us are well-versed – or even, in some cases, comfortable thinking about, particularly when they pertain to loved ones who have only recently passed.
And, in addition to the overwhelming prospect of managing the logistics of contesting a will, it is important that we do not overlook the emotional ramifications of doing so – particularly when it leads to familial rifts.
Still, speaking out against a will that you feel to be wrong – whether that is because of an honest mistake or oversight, or something more malicious – is incredibly important, particularly when you feel driven to give a voice to someone who can no longer state their wishes for themselves.
5 Pitfalls to Avoid when Challenging a Will
To make matters easier for you, we have put together five things that you should avoid doing as you begin the process of contesting a will.
Not Using the Right Solicitor
Inheritance law is an incredibly complex branch of law, and attempting to navigate this process without the help of a professional and experienced solicitor will prove to be a big mistake.
What’s more, finding legal guidance for challenging a will is a little more demanding than tracking down the nearest law firm. Due to the complexities that are an inherent part of contesting a will, you should be careful to focus your search on finding a solicitor who holds considerable experience in this area of law.
Not Acting in Time
While the specific timeframe depends on the reasons for contesting a will, taking action as quickly as possible is essential – or you may be left wondering what the outcome might have been, had you started a little sooner.
Some claims, such as those for reasonable financial provision or rectification allow a period of six months, while others are more open-ended, though grow increasingly difficult for the claimant if assets have already been handed over to other members of the family.
In essence, making the decision to act – and then acting on that decision – must be done as soon as possible to stand a higher chance of a good outcome.
Not Communicating with Family
Contesting a will can make families vulnerable to considerable rifts opening up, particularly if accusations are being made. It is far better to create an atmosphere of openness within the family, rather than to pursue your case with your solicitor and leave your loved ones in the dark.
Contesting a will is done in an attempt to bring about a fair conclusion for everyone involved – not to create more friction, and potentially irreparable rifts, within the family unit. From time to time, the contents of a will can be devastating to close family, but that needn’t mean that the family is torn apart irreparably.
Not Doing Your Research
A large part of the stress that claimants can incur during this process is borne from an ability to know what to expect – or why the restrictions placed on contestation are the way they are. When the situation is entangled within a personal sense of injustice – not to mention grief – it is all the more difficult to see the wood for the trees.
The best way to tackle this is to ensure that you are doing your own research into the process. Prior to reaching out to a solicitor, you should at least know whether or not you are in a position to contest a will, and whether the appropriate grounds for challenging it are there.
Not Understanding the Costs Involved
No one can, at the beginning of the process, offer even a rough guide price for contesting a will. Each case varies significantly, but it is important to note that the cost of challenging these documents can often begin to spiral – particularly if you end up being subject to a cost order.
This is why it is important that you elect to work alongside an experienced solicitor, who can ensure that you remain as aware as possible of the potential costs coming your way, and that you are prepared to invest time and money into the process.
Challenging a Will is a feature post