Do you need to challenge the validity of a will or inheritance? If so, this is often referred to as “contentious probate”.

You may feel that a will is not valid and need to understand how your can challenge the same.


There are several reasons for a will being challenged which include:

  • Lack of knowledge and approval – not knowing the meaning or content of the will
  • Undue influence – pressure on a person to make or change a will
  • Lack of testamentary capacity – the testator does not have the mental capacity to make will
  • Incorrect execution – the provisions of s9 Wills Act 1837 have not been followed
  • Fraud or forgery – faking a signature or making unauthorised changes to a will

An estate can also be challenged for other reasons not related to the will document itself:

  • Lack of financial provision made for dependents – this would be challenged under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.
  • Proprietary estoppel – where an assurance has been given to you during the testator’s lifetime that you have acted on to your detriment and the promise was unfulfilled which left you at a disadvantage.
  • Challenging competence or conduct of executors – you may feel that the executor is not putting the estate first or acting in a reasonable manner or failing to act altogether.

We know that the last thing any wants to do is challenge a loved ones will or estate and that it can be very difficult to air your concerns at the same time as grieving. However, it is best to bring claims as early as possible to ensure the estate is preserved so your claim can be pursued.

We are here to work through your concerns and provide you with informed advice based on your unique position. Our solicitors act with empathy to provide you with a realistic solution.

Costs vary significantly in any contentious matter and would be discussed in our initial meeting. If you require a meeting please contact or call on 020 8646 4885.


The will is a private document until a grant is issued. It is however best to ask for a copy of a will that is being contested as it may lead to an early resolution of any disputes.

Depending on the circumstances we may recommend a Larke v Nugus letter being sent to the solicitors who prepared the will. This will provide more information regarding the circumstances under which the will was prepared and the advice given at the time.

The name Larke v Nugus comes from a case where a beneficiary was in dispute with the Executor when they refused to provide a copy of the Will. It is the duty of any Executor to provide copies of the Will to those who request it, if of course they are entitled to receive it.

The request covers the following points which assist in determining any claim against the will:

  • How long had you known the deceased?
  • Who introduced you to the deceased?
  • On what date did you receive instructions from the deceased?
  • Did you receive instructions by letter? If so, please provide copies of any correspondence.
  • If instructions were taken at a meeting, please provide copies of your contemporaneous notes of the meeting including an indication of where the meeting took place and who else was present at the meeting.
  • How were the instructions expressed?
  • What indication did the deceased give to you that he knew he was making a will?
  • Were you informed or otherwise aware of any medical history of the deceased that might bear upon the issue of his capacity?
  • Did the deceased exhibit any signs of confusion or loss of memory? If so, please give details.
  • To what extent were earlier wills discussed and what attempts were made to discuss departures from his earlier will- making pattern? What reasons, if any, did the testator give for making any such departures?
  • When the will had been drafted, how were the provisions of the will explained to the deceased?
  • Who, apart from the attesting witnesses, was present at the execution of the will? Where, when and how did this take place?
  • Please provide copies of any other documents relating to your instructions for the preparation and execution of the will and surrounding circumstances or confirm that you have no objection to us inspecting your relevant file(s) on reasonable notice.

Please note some solicitors will need authority from the Executor to disclose the information and may charge a fee.

If you would like more advice on challenging the validity of a will please contact or call on 020 8646 4885 to book an appointment.


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