If a Will is valid, the deceased’s estate will be distributed according to its terms, subject to any claim under the Inheritance (Provisions for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
The question therefore frequently arises as to whether or not a Will is valid. In order to be valid, the Will must comply with several necessary formalities: if it does not, the Will will have no effect and the deceased’s estate will not be distributed in accordance with its terms, but rather in accordance with the intestacy rules or a former Will.
In addition, a Will can be challenged for a number of other reasons, including:-
- The testamentary capacity of the deceased. A Will can only be made by a person who has a sufficient understanding of his or her assets and the worth, and of the Will’s terms and effects. They must also be aware of those who could reasonably expect to receive something under the terms of the Will. If a Will is made by a person suffering from dementia, for example, it may be possible to challenge its validity on the basis that the testator had insufficient understanding of its terms and effect at the time it was made.
- Undue influence. Those making a Will can sometimes be influenced by one who wishes to benefit under its terms. It may well be very difficult to prove that an individual manipulated the testator into leaving them or their family members’ money and specialist legal advice is therefore essential.
- The deceased lacked required knowledge and approval of the Will. Although more rare, this situation may arise if the testator was unable to speak, had a visual impairment, or was unable to read.
If you have concerns over the validity of a Will, we have the experience and expertise to advise and assist you. Please contact a member of the Disputes team.