Advice on Contesting a Will

How to contest a Will

We are largely able to pass on our estate in a Will as we please, but there are circumstances where certain people will have grounds for contesting a Will.  The validity of the Will document can be contested on the grounds that it was not properly signed, that the person making the Will was not of sound mind or that the Will was made under duress ie the undue influence of someone.    Alternatively a person who was a dependent on the deceased in Northern Ireland, who has not been properly provided for, can challenge the implementation of a Will under The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) (NI) Order 1979.

Who can contest a Will?

This legislation provides that certain categories of people who believe they should have been provided for after someone's death, but weren't,  may have grounds to dispute a Will if the deceased person is deemed to have had a responsibility to provide for certain members of their family and/or other dependents. There is no set list of people who are guaranteed success when challenging a Will, and the circumstances of each case will be examined.

Promissory Estoppel

If you were made a promise that you would inherit something and you acted to your detriment on that basis, if the final Will does not honour the promise made you may able to challenge the Will by relying on the doctrine of estoppel.

For example, if you sell your own property to live with an elderly family member at their request and with the promise that their property would pass on to you on their death, you have acted to your detriment.  If that person then executed a Will that did not honour their promise to you the rules of estoppel could be invoked. Similarly, if you were promised the family farm or a share of it and then proceeded to work on the farm for less than standard income on the basis that you were contributing to the success of a farm that one day would be yours, you may have grounds to challenge the Will if it does not honour the promise made to you that you acted on.

If you were made a promise that you would inherit something and you acted to your detriment on that basis, if the final Will does not honour the promise made you may able to challenge the Will by relying on the doctrine of  estoppel 
For example, if you sell your own property to live with an elderly family member at their request and with the promise that their property would pass on to you on their death, you have acted to your detriment.  If that person then executed a Will that did not honour their promise to you the rules of estoppel could be invoked. Similarly, if you were promised the family farm or a share of it and then proceeded to work on the farm for less than standard income on the basis that you were contributing to the success of a farm that one day would be yours, you may have grounds to challenge the Will if it does not honour the promise made to you that you acted on

Challenging a Will

When someone is contesting a Will under the provisions of this legislation they make an inheritance provision claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) (NI) Order 1979. In Northern Ireland many of these inheritance provision claims are settled out of court via negotiation with the benefit of legal advice from a solicitor specialising in contesting a Will.

Contact one of our expert solicitors

There is a time limit to contesting a Will under this legislation, so if you have become aware that you are not to benefit from a Will in the manner you expected, or were led to believe, and that you were dependent on the deceased, contact one of the solicitors at Wilson Nesbitt specialising in inheritance provision claims to discuss your next step. One of our experts will be able to tell explain whether you may have claim, the process of contesting a Will and advise you on how to get started.

Call us on 0800 840 9293 or submit your details online for a callback by clicking here.

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