Can you contest a will in the UK?

Can You Contest a Will in the UK?

Contesting a will is a significant decision that individuals may consider under certain circumstances. In the UK, there are specific legal grounds and procedures for contesting a will, providing recourse for those who believe they’ve been unfairly treated or excluded. This article aims to provide clarity on the question, “Can you contest a will?” in the UK, exploring the legal framework, valid reasons for contestation, and the steps involved in the process.

Legal Grounds for Contesting a Will: 

In the UK, contesting a will is governed by established legal principles and precedents. While laws may vary slightly across jurisdictions within the UK, the following are common grounds for contestation

  • Lack of Testamentary Capacity:

    A will can be contested if there are concerns regarding the mental capacity of the testator (the person making the will) at the time of its creation. If it’s proven that the testator lacked the mental capacity to understand the nature and effect of making a will, the document may be deemed invalid.

  • Undue Influence:

    Contesting a will on the grounds of undue influence involves alleging that the testator was coerced, pressured, or unduly influenced by another party when making decisions regarding the distribution of their estate. This could include situations where a caregiver or family member exerted undue pressure on the testator to change the terms of the will.

  • Fraud or Forgery:

    If there is evidence to suggest that the will was procured through fraudulent means or that signatures were forged, it may be possible to contest its validity in court. Contesting a will on the grounds of fraud or forgery requires substantial evidence to support the claim.

  • Lack of Proper Execution:

    A will must be executed in accordance with specific legal formalities outlined in the Wills Act 1837. Failure to comply with these requirements, such as not having the appropriate witnesses present, could render the will invalid and open to contestation.

  • Rectification and Interpretation:

    Contesting a will on the grounds of rectification or interpretation involves seeking clarification or correction of errors, ambiguities, or omissions in the document. This could include situations where the language used in the will is unclear or open to different interpretations.


Steps Involved in Contesting a Will: Contesting a will in the UK typically involves the following steps:

  • Gathering Evidence:

    Before contesting a will, it’s essential to gather relevant evidence to support your case. This may include medical records, witness statements, and documentation relating to the circumstances surrounding the creation of the will.

  • Seeking Legal Advice:

    Contesting a will in the UK is a complex legal process, and it’s advisable to seek guidance from a solicitor or legal expert specializing in contested probate cases. They can assess the merits of your case, advise you on your rights and options, and represent you in court if necessary.

  • Mediation and Negotiation:

    In some cases, disputes over wills can be resolved through mediation or negotiation outside of court. This can help to avoid lengthy and costly legal proceedings while still achieving a satisfactory outcome for all parties involved.

  • Court Proceedings:

    If mediation or negotiation fails to resolve the dispute, it may be necessary to escalate the matter to court. The court will consider the evidence presented by both sides and make a decision based on the merits of the case.

How to avoid your Will being contested?

To minimize the risk of your will being contested, meticulously draft it with clarity, clearly outlining your wishes and intentions. Ensure fairness in distributing assets among beneficiaries, address any potential concerns or disputes beforehand. Strictly adhere to legal formalities, such as signing the will in the presence of witnesses as required by law. Communicate openly with your loved ones about your decisions, providing explanations where necessary to avoid misunderstandings or hurt feelings. Seeking professional legal advice can also help navigate complexities and ensure your will is legally sound, reducing the likelihood of any future challenges. Taking these proactive steps will help safeguard your wishes and minimize the chances of your will being contested. Using a professional Will Writer from the Society of Will Writers to draft your Will will reduce the chances that your Will is successfully contested.


In summary, contesting a will in the UK is a complex legal process that requires careful consideration and expert guidance. While there are valid grounds for contestation, it’s essential to gather evidence, seek legal advice, and assess the likelihood of success before proceeding. By understanding your rights and options, you can make informed decisions and take appropriate action to protect your interests and seek justice in matters of contested wills.