Can I contest a will on the grounds of invalid procedure?

If you would like to contest a will on the grounds of invalid procedure then call our free helpline on 0333 888 0409 for a case assessment or send us an email.

To contest a will on the grounds of invalid procedure it is necessary to consider the Wills Act 1837, an archaic piece of law that is long overdue for reform. For a will to be valid it must be properly drafted and executed in accordance with that Act.

Handwritten wills and printed wills are both acceptable. Most wills these days are written on paper but in fact a will can be written on any material provided the other requirements are met and it can be produced to the probate registry.

Another requirement is that the will must be signed by the testator. However the Wills Act does not define what is meant by ‘signed’. The courts have even accepted a thumb print from the testator as a valid ‘signature’.

Valid procedure

The main requirements for a will to be validly prepared are:

  • The testator must be aged 18 or over;
  • The will must be in writing and signed by the testator. The testator can direct someone to sign the will on their behalf if they are unable to. However the testator must be present and direct the person to do so;
  • The testator must have the intention that their signature is to give effect to the will; and
  • The signature is witnessed by two independent witnesses and each witness signs the will.

If it appears these requirements have been complied with it raises the legal presumption that the will has been validly executed, unless evidence to the contrary arises. The presumption strengthens if the will has been drafted by a solicitor who has overseen its execution.

However, if the formalities of the Wills Act have not been complied with then you can contest the will on the grounds of invalid procedure.

Homemade wills

It is more common for people to contest a will on the grounds of invalid procedure when the will is homemade or drafted by an unqualified ‘will writer’.

Invalid wills

If a will is successfully challenged on the grounds of invalid procedure then it will not have legal effect.

If an earlier, valid will is in existence then the terms of this will shall apply. If there is no previous will the testator will be deemed to have died intestate and the estate would be distributed in accordance with the intestacy rules.

How we can help

Our Legal 500 recommended solicitors specialise in contesting wills and deal with claims from all over the country. We can often work on a no win, no fee basis and are happy to consider any case for no win, no fee funding.

To find out more about whether you can contest a will on the grounds of invalid procedure call our free legal helpline on 0333 888 0409 or email us at [email protected]