The last Will and Testament of your loved one isn’t just a letter of intention, it’s a legal document. Understanding the terms, the implications, and the possible consequences of contesting a Will can help you make an informed decision. It could be detrimental to you, your family, friends and even the wishes of the testator if you don’t handle the issue with care.
A Will specifically states how any property, possessions and finances that belonged to the deceased will be handed out to family, friends or whoever is named, once they are gone. Before you think about contesting these last wishes, there are 7 aspects that you need to consider.
1. The Right Grounds
There are a few different terms surrounding disputes and issues over someone’s Will. It’s important before you contest a Will that you know exactly what it concerns and deals with.
If, for example, you simply thought you should have been left more than you were given, it is advised that you don’t go forward with any legal action. Contesting a Will successfully in the UK is frequently based on two main grounds. The first is that the testator didn’t have the capacity to make fair conclusions because of a lack of understanding or mental wellbeing.
The second is based on foul play, which brings us onto our next section.
2. Ulterior Motives
Before you contest a Will, it’s important that you understand the implications of the second main reason to do so. A second possible reason is that there was undue influence during the creation of the Will.
Undue influence can be anything from manipulation from another party, deception, coercion or even intimidation. You should tread carefully though, because there is a big difference between these aspects, and competing for affection or appealing to the testator’s sentimentality. You might have big issues with your siblings or friends competing for affections and a place in the Will, but the only unacceptable methods of influence is psychological or physical pressure in a coercive way.
3. Proving Difficult
A third aspect you should consider is the difficulty of proof. While proving a lack of testator capacity has a somewhat higher success rate compared to the appeals for undue influence, both can be difficult to win. Particularly in the case of undue influence, be warned that it can be very hard to prove and this can factor into our next two aspects, minds and money.
4. Emotional Impact
When even considering contesting a Will it is vital that you seek legal advice and unbiased professional opinion before going further. Losing a loved one is an extremely difficult time, and so thinking about contesting a Will and bringing controversy between family, friends and loved ones isn’t something you should ever take lightly.
A last Will and Testament self-help kit
The length of the case can also put a big strain on relationships, and your mental wellbeing as you cope with it as well as your normal busy life.
5. Financial Cost
One of the biggest aspects you should consider are the financial implications of taking legal action during the process of contesting a Will. Make sure that your motives and your ‘suspicions’ are backed up by strong legal advice from the word ‘go’, and understand that contesting a Will should be beneficial for those involved, even after the legal fees that the process will incur.
6. Best Wishes
Before you take any action, one of the most important things to do is make the priorities of your loved ones who has departed become your own. Try to bring your motivation in line with what would honour their Will and their wishes, rather than something fuelled by an emotional response. Contesting a Will under selfish pretences is never a right course of action, and the aim is to make sure that the truth and a fair result are achieved at the end.
7. The Fall-Out
The final aspect to consider is the time during and after the case. Rifts can form between family, friends and those involved. Not everyone deals with such a difficult time or a difficult process like contesting a Will in the same way.
It might be that some relationships aren’t the same after the proceedings have finished. You should expect reactions that you may not have thought you would get, and some difficult or upsetting conversations may arise. You should always make sure you are well prepared, and have taken on all the advice you can get about the right way to approach contesting a Will before you take action.
As if the subject wasn’t difficult enough, it can be a strain on your time, money and emotions to contest a Will. Sometimes though, it is the only thing you can do.
If you’ve sought the right advice, often contesting is actually what is needed, click here for more information on the topic. Often justice needs to be exacted to benefit everyone involved and appropriately honour the real Will of the testator. These 7 aspects will help you tread carefully before you contest a Will, but if you consider them all, you can step boldly into the process in search of the right conclusion.
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