Contesting a will

If you are recently bereaved, it would be distressing to learn that your loved one’s will is not consistent with your expectations or needs.

It is possible to go to court in order to contest a will but only in specific circumstances. It is not enough that the will is unfair. You need to know what these circumstances are.


One basis to contest a will is invalidity. This could be because:

  • The legal formalities (e.g. witnessing) were not followed
  • The deceased lacked the capacity to understand their will
  • The deceased was subject to fraud or undue influence

Reasonable provisions

Alternatively, it is possible to contest a will under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, if reasonable financial provision was not made for dependants. Solicitors understand how courts apply the law and can assess your chances of successfully contesting the will.

If you want to contest a will, you need to do so quickly and within the time limit set by the law. This can be challenging bearing in mind the pain and stress of bereavement. Generally, you will have six months to make a claim. A solicitor will make you aware of the relevant deadlines and help you take the necessary action in a timely manner.

Distributing the estate

If you successfully challenge a will, the court will normally divide up the estate according to the law that applies when there is no will.

If you contested the will under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, the estate will be divided as the court sees fit. A solicitor will advise you what the end result of successfully contesting a will would be in your case.

More questions on wills and probate matters? Please see our FAQ page on wills and probate for further information.

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