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Baseless Will Challenge Leads to Costs Consequences

PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.

The dangers of trying to upset the provisions of a properly drafted will were made clear in a recent case in which the daughter of a wealthy man insisted on having his will formally ‘proved’ in court, after he had excluded her from benefiting under it by changing it a few months before he died. 

She did this by the little-used method of entering a ‘caveat’ at the probate registry. This is a device which prevents a grant of probate being made until the caveat is removed. The executors of the estate then went to court to have the caveat lifted. 

She argued that the change to the will, which left her father’s entire estate to his partner, was made because he was ‘not of sound mind’ and that the solicitor who attended to the variation had not made proper attendance notes of her father’s intentions. 

Her case was not supported by any credible evidence and it was clear to the court that the man was of sound mind when the will was made. The court’s ire was clear when it made an adverse costs order against the daughter, leaving her with a considerable bill for legal costs. 

If you are concerned that relatives or others may seek to oppose your wishes as regards the distribution of your estate, there are steps which can be taken when drafting a will to minimise the probability of a successful challenge.  

Contact Mark Ferguson for advice.

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