Q. I have a suspicion that the deceased person was not fully aware of the decisions they were making about their Will. What can I do?
A: If you suspect the deceased lacked mental capacity to make a Will, you should consult a solicitor to make enquiries because there is a protocol which should be followed – it is called the “ACTAPS Protocol” on the website of the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Solicitors – see www.actaps.com This sets out steps which must be taken to investigate the position, including making enquiries with the deceased’s GP to check capacity.
Q. I know that the deceased person wanted me to receive something from their Estate. The Will apparently does not provide for this. Is there anything I can do to challenge the Will?
A: There are various ways to challenge the validity of a Will. It may not have been properly executed (there are strict rules about that) or the deceased may have suffered undue influence, duress or lack of mental capacity prior to making a Will. You can also challenge the Will if you were financially dependent upon the deceased. The ACTAPS protocol sets out the method for investigating this. You will also be well advised to speak to a specialist solicitor with experience of such cases who may be able to negotiate a suitable settlement for you.
Q. What does it cost to challenge the validity of a Will and can I get legal aid?
A: The way to challenge a Will is to follow the ACTAPS protocol (www.actaps.com). Legal aid is sometimes available, subject to a financial means assessment. Otherwise, these actions are costly and so you should consider carefully whether the benefit of pursuing such a claim outweighs the costs which can some times run into many hundreds and sometimes thousands of pounds.