Be aware though, there are only four possible ways to do so.
1. Lack of proper formalities
The will needs to cover all of the legal formalities. Essentially this means it needs to be in writing, signed by the will maker, and witnessed by two persons who were both present with the will maker at the same time but who are not beneficiaries of the will.
2. Lack of testamentary capacity
Do you believe that the will maker had the necessary mental capacity to make a will? Three elements apply:
i. did he/she understand the nature of making a will and its effects
ii. did he/she understand the extent of the property of which he/she was disposing
iii. did he/she comprehend and appreciate the claims to which he ought to give effect and was he/she affected by any disorder of the mind that influenced the will in disposing of his/her property.
If in doubt, obtain medical records and speak to possible witnesses who knew the will maker at the time.
3. Lack of knowledge and approval
The will maker must have known and approved the contents of his/her will and appreciated the extent of what he/she was giving and to whom. It is often closely related with testamentary capacity. The court will look for any ‘suspicious’ circumstances and require an explanation of these, e.g. if the relationship of the beneficiary to the will maker was not close, it may be deemed as ‘suspicious’ and further enquiries may be necessary.
4. Undue influence
For this challenge to succeed there must be coercion or fraud. There is a very high threshold to challenge a will on this basis and so if you have concerns, speak to a solicitor.
With regard to time limits, generally speaking in claims to challenge the validity of a will, there is no time limit. However, if you delay in bringing a claim then the court may decide that you are no longer entitled to bring your claim, so act fast.
If you have sadly lost a parent (or husband/wife/civil partner or someone who was financially maintaining you) another option you may wish to consider is bringing a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, if a will does not make reasonable financial provision for you. The Act allows the court to vary the distribution of the deceased’s estate where it considers the provision made under the will to be unreasonable.
Whilst any death can be difficult for those left behind, it can be even more worrying if you face financial difficulties, and although the prospect of legal action is daunting, the possibility of being awarded a share of your loved one’s estate may just be worth pursuing.