Can A Will Be Challenged After Probate

probate challenge

Can A Will Be Challenged After Probate Is Granted
Time limits for challenging a Will after probate
Who Can Challenge A Will After Probate
Grounds for Contesting a Will
Costs for Contesting a Will
Does a grant of probate supersede a Will?
Practical Considerations and Challenges

Can a Will Be Challenged After Probate Is Granted

The thought of contesting a WIll after probate has been granted may seem daunting and overwhelming. However, armed with the right information and guidance, it becomes a manageable task. Here we will shed some light on the process, grounds, and practical considerations involved in challenging a WIll after probate, empowering you to confidently navigate this complex legal landscape. Let's unravel the intricacies of contesting a Will post-probate, and answer the question - can a Will be challenged after probate is granted?

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn about the probate process, time limits for challenging a Will, the grounds for contesting a WIll, who can challenge a Will after probate, and the costs involved in doing so. By equipping you with the knowledge and insights necessary to make informed decisions regarding your potential to challenge and understand the implications of the question, can your Will be challenged after probate is granted?

Short Summary

  • It is possible to challenge a Will after probate, but it is more difficult and costly.

  • The timescale limit is generally six months after probate is granted.

  • Grounds for contesting a Will include lack of testamentary capacity and undue influence.

  • When challenging a Will, legal advice should be sought along with consideration of potential costs and risks.

Challenging a Will After Probate: Is It Possible?

You might be wondering, "Is it possible to challenge a Will after probate has been granted?"The short answer is yes. However, it's important to remember that contesting a Will after probate can be more difficult and costly than doing so before probate is granted. This is why it's crucial to act quickly.

There are various steps involved in contesting a Will after probate has been granted, such as seeking legal advice, filing a claim, and potentially entering a caveat against the estate. It's important to be aware of the expenses and financing options for contesting a Will, which may include legal costs, court fees, and other expenses related to the process. Once again, acting in a timely manner is crucial.

What Is Probate?

Probate is the legal process of administering the deceased's estate, ensuring the Will is valid and properly executed, and distributing assets according to the Will's instructions. This process includes verifying the validity and proper execution of the Will, identifying and assessing the deceased person's property, discharging any debts and taxes, appropriating estate assets, and allocating the residual assets to the beneficiaries.

The process of probate is a legal process of obtaining a Grant from the court, which validates the legal authority of the executor or administrator appointed by the Will or the court, to handle the affairs of the estate.

Once the Grant has been obtained, the Will becomes a public document. The executor will now collect all assets of the estate, including property, bank accounts, investments, and personal effects, and will add them up to form a total gross value. From this value, deductions are made to settle any outstanding debts, taxes, and expenses owed by the deceased. The remaining balance is then distributed to the beneficiaries named in the Will, or in accordance with the intestacy laws if a valid Will is not present.

However, the probate process is not just about distributing assets to beneficiaries. It also involves verifying the validity of the Will and ensuring that it has not been tampered with in any way. This is important because it ensures that the deceased's wishes are carried out as intended and that all beneficiaries are treated fairly.

While the probate process can be overwhelming, it is an essential part of estate planning that ensures that assets are distributed correctly and in accordance with the wishes in the Will. By taking the necessary steps to ensure that your Will is properly drafted, you can give your loved ones peace of mind and ensure that your legacy is protected for future generations.

Part of the probate process also involves checking the authenticity of the Will, and ensuring that it is a valid and legitimate document written by the person of the deceased and not tampered with in any way.

Understanding the process involved with probate is crucial for those considering contesting a Will, as this process plays a significant role in the distribution of the deceased's estate. Familiarising yourself with the probate process can help you better navigate the complexities of challenging a Will after probate has been granted.

Probate, in essence, is the process of administering the deceased's estate, ensuring the Will is valid, properly executed, and that the testator had the mental capacity to create the Will. After a successful grant of probate, the executor is authorised to distribute assets and settle debts in accordance with the Will's instructions.

There are several implications and challenges associated with probate, which can result in an invalid Will. If a Will is deemed invalid, the estate may not be distributed in accordance with the individual's true wishes.

Furthermore, if one is not a specified executor in the Will, they may not be able to view it before probate is granted, potentially affecting spouses, children, and those who may have a claim on the estate, including civil partners.

Time limits for challenging a Will after probate

The time limits for challenging a Will after probate vary depending on the grounds for contesting. Generally, claimants have six months from the Grant of Probate to contest the Will. If you are considering contesting a Will, acting promptly can significantly impact the ease with which assets are recovered and distributed.

It's important to note that the most advantageous outcome when contesting a Will upon probate would be to lodge your claim prior to probate being granted, preventing any assets from being dispersed and avoiding complications that may arise from such claims.

If a claim is submitted after the six months time limit, it is likely that it will not be a successful claim. In this case, a caveat may be submitted to the Probate Registry, providing an individual with a period of six months to ascertain whether they possess reasonable grounds to dispute a Will, which can be extended.

Grounds for Contesting a Will

There are several grounds for contesting a Will, each of which requires different evidence and legal arguments. These grounds are:-

  1. The deceased didn't have the required testamentary capacity.

  2. The deceased didn't properly understand and approve the content of the Will.

  3. The deceased was put under undue influence when making the Will.

  4. The Will was forged, and is therefore fraudulent.

  5. What is known as "rectification" where there were clerical errors when making the Will or there's a failure to understand the deceased's intentions.

Lack of testamentary capacity implies that the individual creating the Will was not of sound mind, memory, and understanding at the time of formulating the Will. Undue influence, on the other hand, involves coercion or force exerted on an individual to alter their will for the benefit of the coercer. Examples of undue influence include physical violence, providing false information, or verbal coercion.

It is important to recognise the specific grounds for contesting a Will and gather relevant evidence to support your claim and to appreciate this will be a time consuming process.

Who Can Challenge a Will After Probate?

Determining who can challenge a Will after probate is crucial, as it affects the validity of the challenge. Those who may challenge a Will after probate has been granted include spouses, children, cohabitants, financial dependents, and individuals mentioned in the Will or a previous will. It's important to note, however, that being a close friend does not necessarily grant the ability to make a challenge.

In some cases, it is permissible to challenge a Will on behalf of a family member or another individual. Should a court determine that a Will is invalid, the estate is distributed at the court's discretion, so there is no assurance of receiving anything. Generally, the estate is distributed in accordance with the most recent valid version of the Will, so it is likely that one would only receive something if they were named in that version.

The Process of Contesting a Will

The process of contesting a Will involves several steps, such as obtaining key documents like the Will itself, any codicils, and other documents associated with the estate. Additionally, it is essential to identify your relationship to the deceased, as this plays a significant role in determining whether you have the right to challenge the Will. Determining the legal grounds for contesting a Will is also a crucial aspect of the process.

Seeking legal advice is imperative before contesting a Will, as you will need to ensure that your challenge is valid and well-founded. It's vital to approach the process with a clear understanding of the probate process, your relationship to the deceased person making it, and the grounds for your challenge.

What Happens After Probate Is Granted?

Once the probate is granted, you can file a claim to contest the Will. This may involve going to court or alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation.

In the following subsections, we will delve deeper into the process of filing a claim and the potential court proceedings or alternative dispute resolution methods that may be used to resolve a Will dispute.

Filing a claim

Filing a claim to contest a Will after probate involves submitting the necessary paperwork and evidence to support the challenge. To procure a copy of key documents, you can request them from the court or the executor of the Will. Additionally, it's crucial to ascertain your relationship to the deceased, as this can impact your ability to challenge the Will. Identifying the legal grounds for contesting a Will is also essential in building a strong case.

The time limit for contesting a Will after probate is six months in the UK.

Court proceedings and alternative dispute resolution

Going to court can be a lengthy and expensive process, and may not always result in the desired outcome. As such, alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation are often recommended to resolve will disputes. Mediation involves an impartial third party facilitating discussions between the disputing parties to reach a mutually agreeable solution. This can be a more efficient and cost-effective way to resolve inheritance disputes.

If a resolution cannot be reached through alternative dispute resolution methods, the case may proceed to litigation in court. It's important to carefully weigh the potential costs and benefits of going to court before proceeding with a Will challenge, as the losing party may be responsible for paying the winning party's costs.

Costs for Contesting a Will

Contesting a Will can be a costly process, involving legal fees, court costs, and potential cost risks if the challenge is unsuccessful. As such, it's essential to explore various funding options to cover these costs. Potential sources of funding for contesting a Will may include legal expenses insurance, insurance policies or a conditional fee agreement.

No Win No Fee

It is highly recommended that if you do appoint a firm of solicitors to contest a Will, that you do so on a "no win, no fee" arrangement.

Unless you do that, you are likely to run up costly bills, as remember it is in the solicitor's interests to charge you for their time, letters, emails, phone calls, disbursements etc, and the more time they spend on the case, win or lose, they will still make money, and guess what - the more time they spend contesting the Will, the more money they will make. At worst, sign up to a water tight fixed fee agreement.

There are solicitors who deal with contentious probate and contesting Wills, but they are notorious for not publishing their fees on their websites, and many people have been shocked to find out how much they will be charged, so once again, make sure if you do appoint a firm who deals with contested Wills, that you choose a firm that offers "no win, no fee" non conditional fees. The whole process of appointing a company that deals in this area needs to be carefully considered from the cost angle.

Legal costs and cost risks

Legal costs for contesting a Will can be significant, with fees potentially reaching many thousands of pounds and even exceeding the value of the estate. In some circumstances, it is possible to defer payment of legal fees for contesting a Will until the conclusion of the case. However, the party that loses may be responsible for paying the costs of the party that wins, so it's important to carefully consider the potential cost risks before proceeding with a challenge. Contested probate fees charged by solicitors can be very high indeed so study the legal terms when appointing a legal personal representative.

In addition to legal costs, there are potential cost risks associated with contesting a Will. These risks can include the possibility of incurring the other party's legal fees in the event of a loss, as well as the possibility of the court ordering the losing party to pay the winning party's costs. It's crucial to take these potential cost risks into account when deciding whether to contest a Will.

Practical Considerations and Challenges

Contesting a Will after probate has been granted can present various practical considerations and challenges, such as recovering assets that have already been distributed and dealing with delays in the distribution of the estate.

Asset recovery

Asset recovery can be a difficult and complex process, especially if estate assets have already been distributed to beneficiaries. If assets have been spent or otherwise disposed of, recovering them may prove to be even more challenging. In some cases, the court may direct the beneficiaries to return the assets to the estate, or the court may instruct the estate to compensate the beneficiaries for the assets.

The procedure for asset recovery after probate is granted involves submitting a petition to the court, which will then evaluate the case and decide whether the assets should be returned to the estate or the beneficiaries should be compensated. The court may also seek advice mandate alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or arbitration, to resolve the disagreement.

Distribution delays

Distribution delays can occur when a Will is contested after probate, potentially causing financial hardship for beneficiaries who are waiting to receive their inheritance. In some cases, the executor may have to wait many months from the date of the Grant of Probate before distributing the estate, though the time frame for settling the estate may vary depending on the size and complexity of the estate.

In the event of distribution delays, it is advised that beneficiaries contact the executor to discuss the situation and decide upon the optimal course of action. Open communication between beneficiaries and executors can help address potential issues and alleviate concerns related to the distribution of the estate.

Preventing Will Challenges: Drafting a Clear and Valid Will

Preventing will challenges is best achieved by drafting a clear and valid will that accurately reflects the will maker's wishes and complies with all legal requirements. Do ensure your Will is properly drafted and adheres to all legal regulations.

By creating a personalised, detailed will, from a respected Will writer, you can minimise the risk of potential conflicts and disagreements among your loved ones after your passing. A well-drafted will can not only meet your individual circumstances, and provide peace of mind and adequate financial provision for your civil partner or family members, but also help prevent unnecessary legal battles and financial strain for your loved ones.

Frequently Asked Questions

On what grounds can you challenge a Will?

The five categories of grounds for a Will challenge are as listed before - lack of testamentary capacity, not understanding and not approving the content of the Will, undue influence, forgery and invalid execution of the Will, and improper influence.

Each of these five categories has its own particular set of legal issues that must be addressed in order to bring an effective will dispute claim.

Can you challenge a Will after probate UK?

It is possible to challenge a Will after probate has been granted, though this is often difficult in practice. To do so successfully, you must be able to prove that the Will was invalid when it was written.

This can be complicated if assets have already been distributed.

What happens if someone contests a Will after probate?

If a person contests a Will during probate, there may be serious consequences that they should consider. Challenging a Will is a difficult and often expensive process, as it requires complex legal arguments to demonstrate why the court should invalidate the legal document itself, so this is why it is important to seek legal advice well before the six months time limit.

Ultimately, it may be better to find an amicable solution prior to probate than to contest the validity of a Will afterward.

Does a grant of probate supersede a Will?

Grant of probate does not supersede a Will. In fact, a grant of probate is essentially an approval by the court to execute the wishes expressed in the Will. The will is necessary to initiate the process of obtaining a grant of probate. Therefore, the Will must be present for a grant of probate to be issued.

What is the time limit for contesting a Will after probate?

After a Will has been approved through probate, the time limit to contest it is usually six months.

Therefore, it is important to be aware of the relevant timeframe and circumstances in which to lodge an objection and make a claim.


We have explored the complexities of challenging a Will after probate, including the probate process, time limits for challenging a Will, potential grounds for making a claim and contesting a Will, and the costs and funding options involved. We've also discussed the practical considerations and challenges that may arise during the claim process, as well as the importance of drafting a clear and valid will to prevent potential challenges.

Armed with this knowledge, you are now better equipped to navigate the intricate legal landscape of contesting a Will after probate. Remember to seek professional legal advice and carefully consider your options before proceeding with a challenge.

Need to know more?

If you have any other questions about probate, please contact us and we will do our best to help you.

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