Following the death of a loved one, locating a valid Will is an important step. Only through this document can the testator's wishes relating to their estate be carried out clearly and as they wanted.
Unfortunately, on occasion there may be grounds for contesting a Will, particularly in situations where the writer of a Will has been manipulated or coerced. This is especially true if there are large sums of money or extensive property to be distributed, and sometimes coercion in Will writing can be found to have occurred. Inheritance dispute solicitors from Oratto can give clear, immediate advice on this complex area of law and the member lawyers in this section will have the expertise required to help you bring or defend a claim.
Creating a valid Will
The process for drafting a Will is sophisticated and thorough. In order for it to be binding certain conditions must be adhered to. The testator must be:
- of sound mind, memory and understanding
- over 18
- aware of the extent (and any limitations of) their estate and have a clear understanding of who they are leaving it to
- able to make these decisions entirely independently and record them accurately
There must also be two independent witnesses who are required to sign the document themselves. Such are the restrictions on creating a Will, it is fairly difficult to produce a fraudulent document which will stand up to scrutiny. However, coercion of a testator may be seen as a way to manipulate the outcome of a bequest and is one of the grounds for contesting a Will.
Ways in which coercion may occur
There are different forms of coercion and they all fall under the category of undue influence, which invalidates a Will. These range from threats of physical violence to deliberately imparting incorrect information to manipulate decisions, possibly regarding valuable property or large sums of money. Often this is found to take place when a testator is old, physically frail, and less likely to question forceful opinions.
There are no hard and fast rules for proving coercion, rather an examination of the circumstances of the drafting of the document will take place. It may be useful to examine any earlier drafts of the Will and testimony from close friends and family may also be pertinent.
If you suspect that coercion in the writing of a Will has occurred then it is imperative that you seek legal advice immediately. Probate law dictates that a Will is administered, and the estate disposed of, rapidly after the death of the testator.
Our team will work with you to find the right solicitor for your needs, and Oratto member lawyers for contesting Wills can be on hand immediately to begin advising you. All of Oratto member probate solicitors have the necessary skill and experience to handle the most demanding of circumstances and are experienced in the complexities of proving or defending a claim of coercion.
Contact Oratto today for swift, tailored advice on disputing a Will