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Part 2: Contentious Probate Explained - for Beneficiaries

Part 2: Contentious Probate Explained - for Beneficiaries

Help Me! I want to make a claim against the Estate

Solicitor, Ruth Jewell, outlines the main points of interest for beneficiaries wishing to contest a will.

A loved one dies and to make this difficult time worse, your loved one has not provided for you. This is either because a will has not been drafted, has not been updated or the will that has been drafted does not provide for you as expected or at all.  Continuing with your life after the loss of a loved one is hard and can be even harder especially if you relied upon them financially.

It can be a struggle to understand why your recently deceased loved one has failed to provide for you.  Numerous questions will fill your head, including…. was there a will? when was the will drafted?  If it was changed, why was it changed?  Have external influences played a part?  Is the will drafted as you were told?  Was the will drafted at a time when your loved one was suffering with a mental condition which meant that they were not able to make decisions for themselves?  Some or all of these questions will be on your mind and it is important to remember help and support is available.

What can I do if I have concerns regarding a Will?

To give you peace of mind that the will which was drafted was as your loved one had wanted you can ask seek advice and ask certain questions.  In the legal sphere such requests are known as a Larke v Negus request.  Such requests are not one size fits all requests and any request made needs to be focussed on the issues of concern which are specific to your situation.

Is your concern twofold?  You may have the concerns based on the issues raised above but what if you haven’t been provided for at all?  You do not have to decide which concern you wish to raise; in fact, you can raise both together.  Similarly, you may only have one concern you wish to address which is also acceptable.

Can I request changes to be made to someone else’s will?

There are certain categories of people who can pursue a claim for the will to be changed and for you to receive an inheritance under that will.  If you wish to make a claim it would be under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Who does the law consider should be provided for in a will?

To be able to bring a claim you have to meet certain criteria and fall under the bracket of one of the specific categories of people who the law considers should be provided for within a will.  These categories are:

  1. the spouse or civil partner of the deceased;

  2. a former spouse or former civil partner of the deceased, but not one who has formed a subsequent marriage or civil partnership;

  3. someone who has for at least 2 years prior to the death of the loved one have lived together as husband and wife or civil partner;

  4. a child of the deceased;

  5. any person (not being a child of the deceased) who was treated by the deceased as a child of the family;

  6. any person who immediately before the death of the deceased was being maintained, either wholly or partly, by the deceased.

If you do fit in one of these categories, then you can potentially bring a claim. The amount which can be claimed is dependent on the specific situation and circumstances.  There are many considerations that the Court has to take into account when deciding on the amount you should be entitled to receive under the will and it is best to take advice about this at an early stage along with whether you are likely to succeed with a claim.

How long do I have in order to make a claim?

One word of caution that is important to highlight to anyone who wishes to pursue a claim is that you need to seek advice sooner rather than later as if you delay it may be too late to pursue a claim.  There is a short timeframe of 6 months from the date when the grant of probate/letters of administration are obtained and so if you are considering pursuing a claim then time is of the essence.


For further advice, please contact Ruth Jewell, Dispute Resolution specialist and solicitor.

Ruth Jewell

Ruth Jewell, Dispute Resolution specialist and Solicitor at Lawson-West

0116 212 1061


Useful links:

Part 1: Contentious Probate Explained - for Executors

Law Society - Probate Changes

Law Gazette - Contentious Probate

The National Will Register - Contentious Probate - The Most Successful Way to Contest a Will 



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