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What Is a Contentious Will?

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

Contesting a Will is a highly specialised area of law and one where expert legal advice is highly recommended.

Such a challenge can be very stressful for all involved and the expense of it can significantly erode the value of the estate.

This article looks at why people contest wills, the grounds on which they do so and, crucially, how you can prevent subsequent problems from arising when you make your Will.

Why do people contest Wills?

Contentious Wills can arise because people’s expectations of receiving an inheritance are not met, or the value is less than anticipated. Feelings of disappointment may be exacerbated if the deceased had promised an inheritance.

Problems may also occur when a Will is many years old; those who do not benefit from it may feel it does not reflect the deceased’s wishes at the time of their death.

What are the grounds for contesting a will?

  • Lack of testamentary capacity which impairs the individual’s ability to make a sound decision (e.g. mental illness)
  • Lack of knowledge and approval – the deceased was unaware of the will’s contents and did not agree to them
  • The deceased being subject to coercion or duress
  • Claims of fraud or forgery
  • Proper processes not being followed – such as the will not being witnessed or signed in the required way
  • Dispute about how a will should be interpreted due to ambiguous language

How can contentious wills be avoided in advance?

Having a will drawn up by an expert solicitor can offer considerable protection from having it contested. The reasons for this include:

  • Having a legally qualified person assess someone’s mental capacity at the time of making the will can make it more robust.
  • The presence of a solicitor in the process makes it less likely that someone has been pressured or coerced into making the will.
  • A solicitor can ensure that the will is written in precise terms without the potential for rival interpretations.
  • The will can be ‘future-proofed’ by the solicitor, making it less liable to challenge
  • Solicitors such as Wilson Browne offer a free health check for wills to ensure they still reflect the person’s wishes – reducing the scope for a subsequent challenge.

Where can I find out more about contentious wills?

Wilson Browne is highly-rated in all issues surrounding wills and uses its wealth of knowledge and experience to help you resolve your issues.

Whether you are looking to have your Will drafted or are involved in a case where a Will is being contested, we can offer you the peace of mind of knowing that you have experts to guide you through the process every step of the way.

With offices in Northampton, Kettering, Corby, Higham Ferrers, Wellingborough and Leicester we can provide you with the bespoke advice you need.

The sooner you get in touch, the sooner we can start helping you so please call 0800 088 6004 or fill in our online form.

Nadia Halliday


Nadia Halliday

Associate & Head of Contentious Probate

Nadia is an Associate and heads up the contested probate department. Nadia qualified in 2008 and is an experienced civil, commercial and  contested  probate solicitor having built up something of a niche practice area for this type of work. With an ability to advise clients…