October 18, 2021

A will lays out the last wishes of an individual, including how an estate is to be divided up between the recipients. From property to assets, family heirlooms to token payments to friends or loved ones, wills can be contentious, causing family disputes that go on for years. If an individual challenges a will, the whole probate process can come to a grinding halt. But who can challenge a will? And why?

Who has the right to challenge a will?

As a rule, anyone who is a beneficiary of a will, or who was likely to have benefited from a will and hasn’t can contest its contents. The most common challenges come from:

  • Blood relatives or spouses
  • Someone who financially depended on the deceased and has been left out or has not been adequately provided for
  • An individual named in an earlier copy of a will but who has been omitted from an updated will
  • Individuals owed money by the deceased
  • An individual who may have been promised an inheritance by the deceased, but who has not been included in the will.

What are the grounds for challenging a will?

There are very specific grounds for challenging a will – you can’t just challenge it because you don’t agree with the contents or think that it isn’t fair unless you can prove conclusively that the individual writing the will was coerced or unduly influenced. The specific grounds for contesting a will are:

  • Lack of testamentary capacity – this means that the person contesting the will believes that the individual was not ‘of sound mind’ when they wrote or instructed a solicitor to write the will.
  • Lack of knowledge and approval – in this instance, the person contesting the will believes that the individual was not fully aware of the contents or did not knowingly approve them before signing the document.
  • Undue influence – one of the most common reasons for contesting a will is that it’s believed that the individual came under undue influence or pressure by other parties when they wrote their will.
  • Fraud or forgery – a very serious matter – this potentially means that the will was forged by someone other than the deceased or has been intentionally altered to benefit an individual. If fraud or forgery is suspected then it is a criminal matter and should be investigated by the police.
  • Rectification – often cited where wills have caveats or changes made to them at a later date, it means that the document was incorrectly prepared or there is a clerical error that has a direct effect on the intentions of the deceased.
  • Lack of valid execution – the will does not meet the exact requirements as stated in the Wills Act 1837 and is therefore invalid.

If a partner, spouse or child of the deceased feels that inadequate provision has been made for dependents  then they may also contest the contents of the will under The Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependents) Act 1975, as long as the claim is made within six months of the grant of probate.

What happens when you challenge a will?

If a challenge is legitimate, then it needs to be made within a certain timeframe so it’s important to act quickly if you want to challenge the contents of a will. The timeframe really depends on the type of claim being made, but generally, a beneficiary has up to 12 years from the date of death to contest a will. If there is suspicion of fraud or forgery, then there is no time limit, especially if a police investigation is launched.

You’ll need to raise a claim as quickly as possible, and once a solicitor has validated that claim then you’ll need to lodge a caveat to the Probate Registry office. This effectively puts a stop to probate, meaning that nobody can get any of the deceased’s money or property until the claim has been dealt with. The caveat lasts for six months, but it can be renewed.

The dispute may be resolved without the need to go to court, but if it cannot be sorted out through dispute resolution then a formal court claim needs to be submitted.

No matter what route a dispute or challenge takes, it will require the expertise of an experienced contentious probate solicitor to ensure the claim is taken seriously. Contesting a will is incredibly complex, and can be costly, too. So it’s essential to evaluate whether or not a challenge is appropriate in the first place.

If you’re considering contesting a will, get expert advice from a member of our expert team today.

< < back to latest news


  • Good Divorce Week 2021
  • White Ribbon Day
  • The benefits of an unregistered LPA
  • Life after the stamp duty holiday
  • What will the property market look like in 2022?
  • Why you need an LPA in your 20s
  • Christmas contact arrangements for the children, how to resolve this early.
  • Why planning for the future is essential
  • Are DIY divorces on the rise?
  • Employline – Your online HR department
  • Settlement agreements – what to do when you receive one
  • Can I challenge a will?
  • Divorce in the forces
  • ABI – When to claim
  • Domestic violence awareness month
  • Land and professional deputies – how to make life a bit easier
  • Terry Jones Solicitors has a new home in Telford
  • Walk, run or swim 5.5km for 50 days – Charity event
  • Are the Government’s care home fee proposals too good to be true?
  • Divorcing after the summer holidays
  • Home insurance legal protection – what is it, and do you really need it?
  • Contentious probate – what are the rules?
  • Will your Family Trust do what you expect it to do?
  • Do parents have different rights in the workplace?
  • Managing long covid in the workplace
  • What is a clean break order?
  • Can future employers look at your social media profiles?
  • Cohabitation agreements: the common law marriage myth
  • Domestic violence – what is coercive control and how can we help?
  • The stay on possession proceedings has been extended with an important change
  • Telling children about separation and divorce
  • Making decisions about divorce when children are involved
  • I want a divorce – what do I need to do?
  • When do you need a solicitor for divorce?
  • Good Divorce Week 2020
  • Premarital agreements: what’s changed in the last decade?
  • Covid-19 and the value of the family home upon divorce
  • Coronavirus and childcare: facilitating contact in the ‘rule of six’ era
  • Jackie Finds New Family at Terry Jones Solicitors
  • Significant surge in divorces
  • Understanding restrictive covenants and furlough leave
  • Redundancy rockets in the UK
  • Furlough scheme enters its next phase in September 2020
  • Coronavirus eviction ban to be extended by four weeks
  • How do self-isolation rules affect Statutory Sick Pay?
  • Potential criminal charges for Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust
  • Gas Safety Certificates and Section 21 notices – a new ruling
  • Action Mesothelioma Day 2020: the dangers of asbestos in the workplace
  • Flexible furlough: how does it work?
  • No-fault divorces: ending the ‘blame game’
  • Ban on tenant evictions extended to August 2020
  • Redundancy and furlough leave
  • Collaborative Law and Covid-19
  • Can you recoup ‘no win, no fee’ legal costs in Inheritance Act Claims?
  • Changes in Employment – what are your rights?
  • What is a protective award claim?
  • Your family law lockdown questions answered
  • Continuing to help make Wills
  • Companies House strike off policy and late filing penalties (Covid-19 changes)
  • Domestic Violence during the Covid-19 Pandemic
  • Employment law support for your dental practice
  • What is a Settlement Agreement?
  • Be wary of ‘DIY’ probate
  • Closing the gap on forgotten employees
  • How effective is your Force Majeure clause?
  • “I don’t need a Lasting Power of Attorney as my family will look after me”
  • Landlord and Tenant court hearings
  • Companies House extension for filing annual accounts
  • Updates for landlords, April 2020 – COVID-19
  • Employment law pitfalls in a pandemic
  • COVID-19 Your holiday entitlement
  • Making redundancies due to coronavirus
  • Family Court Guidance during COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: What is furlough leave
  • Still here for you
  • Property & Finance Attorney under Lasting Power of Attorney
  • 2020 has brought about exciting changes for our residential team
  • Freedom for All – Domestic Violence, Divorce and Pets
  • Season’s Greetings
  • It’s nearly that time of year again, Christmas is getting closer
  • Elf Day for the Alzheimer’s Society Charity
  • Who gets custody of the pet?
  • Are you concerned about your relationship?
  • An Ageing Population
  • Divorce is just as much an emotional process as a legal one
  • Braving the Zip Line for Charity
  • First Class Law Graduates
  • Shrewsbury Flower Show – A resounding success
  • To Pre-Nup or not to Pre-Nup?
  • Another successful show at Newport
  • PPI Claim Deadline is 29th August 2019
  • Ellen addresses audience at Ludlow Property Conference
  • New Trainee Solicitors
  • Need advice? Email us enquiries@terry-jones.co.uk