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I would like to receive newsletters, event invitations and publications from Thomson Snell & Passmore by email on the following topics (tick all those that apply) and consent for my data to be processed for this purpose.

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1. How do I get a copy of the will?

This depends on whether the executors have already taken out a Grant of Probate.

Before a Grant of Probate is issued, the executors (or the testator’s solicitors) will have the will.  They can let beneficiaries of the will have a copy, and it is often a good idea for them to do so. In very specific situations it may also be advisable for the executors to disclose a copy to certain non-beneficiaries. A copy of the will does not however have to be disclosed to anyone other than the executors. We can provide advice in these circumstances.  

After a Grant of Probate is issued, the will is a public document.  A copy can be accessed online by anyone (for a small fee).


2. What do I do if I have doubts about a will?

Questions regarding the will can be put to the executors.  Whilst they are under no obligation to share information, an overly-secretive approach with beneficiaries and others can often cause resentment and mistrust. 

Where a serious dispute arises as to the validity of a will, a person with “sufficient interest” can make a Larke v Nugus request. This is a request made to the testator’s solicitor that they provide a statement of evidence regarding the making of the will and the surrounding circumstances. 

3. On what grounds can a will be set aside?

Broadly speaking, there are five grounds:

  1. If the will does not comply with the necessary formalities e.g. it was not properly witnessed.
  2. If the testator lacked mental capacity
  3. If the testator lacked knowledge and approval of the will’s contents
  4. If the testator was unduly influenced into making the will
  5. If the will was subject to fraud/forgery.

4. What happens if a will has been set aside?

If the testator made an earlier will, that earlier will will be admitted to probate and the estate will be distributed in accordance with that will.  

If the testator did not make an earlier will, the estate will be distributed according to the intestacy rules. 

5. Who can contest a will?

Anyone who has “sufficient interest” in the estate.  In practice this will be beneficiaries of the previous will or beneficiaries taking under the intestacy rules.  

6. How do I contest a will?

You can start by lodging a caveat at the relevant Probate Registry.  The caveat stops the executors from obtaining a Grant in respect of the will you wish to contest and therefore prevents the estate from being distributed.  

Before launching full court proceedings, a pre-action process must also be followed.  This involves providing full details of your claim and the key documents / evidence you are relying upon to the other parties.  You should seek legal advice on how best to prepare and present your case.    

7. Who needs to be involved in a will claim?

You need to involve the executors and all the beneficiaries of the will you are trying to set aside. The beneficiaries who will inherit the estate under the previous will or under the intestacy rules should also be involved.  

8. Does it matter if a will has a no contest clause?

Yes.  If properly drafted, a no-contest clause ensures that if a beneficiary chooses to challenge the will and is unsuccessful, they will forfeit what has been left to them. 

9. How long do I have to make a claim?

There is no specific deadline by which you must bring your will challenge claim.  However, once an estate is distributed, any will challenge you may wish to pursue will be harder and may be pointless.   Hence, if you wish to challenge a will, you should act quickly and preferably formulate your concerns and grievance before a Grant is taken out.   There are varying time-sensitivities in this area, so if you are considering challenging a will, get in touch with a solicitor as soon as possible. 

10. Can you contest a will before the person it belongs to has died?

No.  Everyone has right to make whatever testamentary dispositions they wish and even if you are disappointed by a will there is nothing you can do.  However, if you have concerns that your relative or friend is vulnerable and is being forced to make specific testamentary dispositions or is being financially abused, get in touch with the Office of the Public Guardian or a solicitor specialising in Court of Protection work.    

11. Can a will be contested when there is already a Grant?

Yes, but there are likely to be practical complications. For example, estate assets may have already been distributed.  Additionally, the passing of time might mean collecting evidence in support of your claim is more difficult.  Always seek professional advice before starting such a dispute.   

12. Can estate assets be sold and distributions made while a will challenge is ongoing?

Not without the Court’s agreement. However Personal Representatives can obtain Limited Grants in certain circumstances, which would allow assets to be sold and debts to be paid (in order to preserve the value of the estate), but which would not allow any distributions to be made. 

13. What can I do if I have not been provided for in a will?

If you feel you have been left out of a will, or not enough has been left for you, certain classes of person (essentially spouses, civil partners, children or others who were financially dependant on the Deceased) can make a separate claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 for “reasonable financial provision” to be made for them.  Such claims are commonly referred to as Inheritance Act claims or 1975 Act claims.  

When pursuing a 1975 Act claim, you are not challenging the validity of the will, but seeking to vary its effect. It is an abuse of process to lodge a caveat to protect a 1975 Act claim.  The 1975 Act claim must be brought within 6 months of the date of issue of the Grant of Probate. 

Alternatively you can read FAQs on Contentious Probate.

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I would like to receive newsletters, event invitations and publications from Thomson Snell & Passmore by email on the following topics (tick all those that apply) and consent for my data to be processed for this purpose.

We respect your privacy and want news to be relevant. To either, click here or update your preferences by emailing us at info@ts-p.co.uk. Your personal data shall be treated in accordance with our & .

Get in touch

By submitting an enquiry through 'get in touch' your data will only be used to contact you regarding your enquiry. If you would like to receive newsletters from Thomson Snell & Passmore please use the separate form below.

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Jargon Buster