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Contesting An Invalid Will

Contesting A Will Due To Undue Influence

Undue influence is when a person coerces someone into changing their Will to benefit themselves. Making a claim of undue influence involves a careful analysis of the evidence and therefore requires specialist knowledge of this type of claim. We have the expertise to help you if you think this is the case.

You might suspect undue influence if someone has changed their Will in a way that seems surprising, out of character or distinct from the pattern of previous Wills. These changes might be:

  • Unexpected or last minute
  • Detrimental to them or their estate
  • Different to the wishes they’ve expressed before.

There might be cause for concern if:

  • The person benefitting from the new Will wasn’t previously included in a Will
  • They stood to inherit a much smaller part of the estate before
  • The deceased was dependant on them when the changes were made
  • The deceased was frail or ill when the Will was made and possibly more susceptible to forceful persuasion.

By its nature, undue influence usually happens behind closed doors, by people in positions of trust, such as a partner, child or carer. This can make it difficult to prove, and a successful claim will need to show that there’s no other reasonable explanation for the Will being the way it is.

Undue influence is more than just persuasion, which is generally allowed. When looking at a claim of undue influence the court will look for evidence that the deceased would not have made the gifts in the Will without being subject to influence.

We have the experience and knowledge to tackle this complicated area of law. If you think that someone has been pressured or bullied into writing a Will that doesn’t reflect their true wishes, we can help.

Our Wills, Trusts and Estate Disputes team is the largest in the country with offices across the UK, meaning we can support you wherever you are. We have special experience dealing with large and complex estates, including rural properties and international assets.

Call us today on 0345 604 4895 – or fill out our online form and we’ll call you back.

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Contesting A Will Due To Undue Influence - More Information
    • Will I Have To Go To Court?
    • Most disputes can be resolved by negotiation and discussion, without having to go to court. However, sometimes this isn’t possible and court is the only way.

      We understand that most people would prefer to keep their dispute out of court, and we will always do everything we can to try and reach an agreement by mediation. However, if your dispute does have to go to court, we will support you at every stage. We have the experience to handle court disputes efficiently and effectively, to achieve the best outcome for you.

    • How Much Does It Cost? Who Pays?
    • The cost of a Will, trust or estate dispute varies from case to case, depending on time, complexity, and whether or not you have to go to court.

      A dispute can be settled at any time if the parties can come to an agreement, and they can then decide how to split the costs between them. However, if an agreement can’t be reached and the case has to go to court, the court will decide how the costs will be paid.

    • How Can I Cover The Cost Of My Claim?
    • There are various ways you can cover the cost of your claim, depending on your case. These include:

      • Legal Expenses Insurance
      • Conditional Fee Agreement (‘No Win No Fee’)
      • Payment on conclusion
      • Private monthly billing
      • Litigation loans and third party funding.

      We understand that funds and assets may be tied up in the disputed estate, and we’ll be as flexible as possible to ensure that’s not another worry on your mind. We’ll discuss the different payment options with you at the start.

      Your first consultation with us is completely free, and there’s no obligation to continue.

    • How Long Do I Have To Make A Claim?
    • Depending on the type of claim you’re making, you may need to start your claim within six months of the grant of representation being issued. In all cases, it’s very important to seek legal advice as soon as possible, so you aren’t prevented from making a valid and potentially valuable claim. We’ll be able to advise you on your situation and how we can help.

    • Meet The Team
    • Our Wills, Trusts and Estate Disputes team is the largest in the UK and we have offices across the country. We are experienced in managing high net worth and ultra high net worth claims as well as less complex ones.

      We’ve resolved some of the country’s most high profile disputes and are particularly experienced with the unique challenges of multi-jurisdictional wealth management structures, rural property and inheritance tax.

      We are recommended by the leading legal guides and pride ourselves on the strong relationship we build with our clients in what is often a very trying time.

      Meet the team

My legal team has held my hand throughout, they have been incredibly patient and understanding"

Joy Williams, client

Frequently Asked Questions

What Counts As Undue Influence?

Undue influence is when someone is pressured into writing a Will, or making changes to their will that, they wouldn’t make if they weren’t being pressured to.

They might do this because they’re afraid of the person putting pressure on them, or simply because they’ve been worn down gradually until they can’t say no anymore.

Undue influence is different to simple persuasion, such as:

  • Reminding someone of what they owe you as a loved one
  • Asking for something out of financial necessity
  • Saying you’ll be destitute if they don’t help you.

While beneficiaries may disagree on how fair it is to persuade or appeal to someone in this way, it is not illegal. For it to count as undue influence, the court needs to find coercion and no other reasonable explanation for the content of the Will.

The court asks for a high standard of evidence on claims for undue influence, and the burden of proof is on the person bringing the claim to show that it did happen, rather than the person accused showing that it didn’t.

We’ll be able to advise you on the best course of action. Call us today on 0345 604 4895 to discuss your case.

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What Is Considered In A Case Of Undue Influence?

For a claim of undue influence to be successful, it must be shown that the person making the Will (known as the “testator”) was coerced into doing so. To do this, the court will consider a number of things, including:

  • The testator’s physical and/or mental strength
  • Their relationship with the person accused of exerting undue influence on the testator
  • How independent they were at the time.

They’ll also consider the disputed terms of the Will, such as:

  • The size and nature of the gift
  • How this Will compares to previous Wills
  • How it compares to wishes the testator had expressed before.

For a successful claim it will be necessary to show not just that a person was in a position to have used undue influence, but that they actually did.

Our expert solicitors will be able to talk you through the details. Call today on 0345 604 4895 – or fill out our online form and we’ll call you back.

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What Is Fraudulent Calumny?

Fraudulent calumny is when someone poisons the testator’s mind against another person with information about that person. They either know that the information is false, or don’t care whether it is or not.

The effects of fraudulent calumny and undue influence can often be similar, for example:

  • Unexpected and often last minute changes to a will which are contrary to what the testator had previously said they wanted
  • A disproportionately large share to one beneficiary (especially if things had been equal before).

The main difference between these two claims is whether or not the testator believes they are acting of their own free will. In the case of fraud, though they are being misled, they think they are doing the right thing. With undue influence, they are being forcefully coerced to act against their better judgement.

The question of fraudulent calumny can sometimes be raised in claims of undue influence as it’s important to understand exactly why the testator made the changes to their Will.

We’ll discuss with you the details of your case and the best grounds for making a claim. Get in touch today for a free consultation on 0345 604 4895.

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