When someone you love has died, dealing with all of their personal effects and the distribution of property is a complex matter, even if there are no complicating factors. Taking care of this as well as processing your own grief can be very difficult. However, if you believe that a Will is unfair, or that it has not been made legally, this can makes things a lot more stressful.
If the Will of a loved one is not what you expected, or not what you believed it would be, you may be able to challenge it. This is a very complicated situation in law, and we would always advise that you discuss your concerns with relatives or other beneficiaries of the Will before proceeding with a case. However, if you believe that there has been a mistake or misjudgement, you should seek legal advice from a solicitor experienced in Wills and Probate.
Disputing A Will: What To Do
A Will is a legal document that sets out the wishes of the deceased, and in most cases, it will be followed as directed, since it is legally binding. There are certain circumstances in which a Will may be challenged, however, although these are limited:
- If you are dependent upon the deceased. The Inheritance Act 1975 allows that a person, or group of people, who have been dependent upon the deceased, may be allowed to challenge a Will in which they feel they have not been treated fairly. This includes anyone who was being financially supported by the deceased, as well as children, step children, foster children, adopted children, grandchildren, step-grandchildren, spouses and civil partners. If you fall within this description, you may be able to challenge the Will of the deceased, especially if being left out of the Will could leave you financially destitute. You should take legal advice to find out more about how to proceed in this situation.
- If a Will was made when not of sound mind. In some cases, when the family of the deceased believe that he or she was not of sound mind when a Will was made or changed, it is possible to challenge the Will. However, it is always best to do this while the person concerned is still living, at which time an application can be made to assume power of attorney or make a statutory Will to protect the individual and his or her family. It is very difficult to prove legal incompetence, so this is a very challenging pathway.
How To Avoid Contests To Your Will
When writing your own Will, it is important to consider how you will protect yourself and your assets against contests. For example, if you are choosing to leave someone out of your Will, who could reasonably expect to benefit from it, you should include a statement to explain why you have made this choice, or add a covering letter to clarify this.
It is vital to keep your Will up to date, as your circumstances change throughout your life. You may find, for example, that an estranged spouse is still the legal beneficiary of your property if you have not altered your Will upon your separation, and this might affect your children and whether they receive anything from your estate. It is also important to remember that a Will becomes invalid upon a marriage, unless it is specifically stated otherwise in the Will itself.
Contact Whelehan Solicitors Tralee
If you do not have a Will, or you wish to find out how to contest the Will of a loved one, simply contact us online or call us today on 066 712 9782 to see how we can help.