Do you want to seek financial provision from the estate?
You can challenge a will if you are related to, or dependant on, the will maker and have been disinherited, are not a beneficiary of a will, or perhaps have only received very minor provision. The claim seeks to prove that the existing lack of provision is unreasonable for you and that you require provision from the estate for your reasonable maintenance.
Do you want to show that the will maker was incapable of making a will?
Sometimes, the state of the will maker’s mental health is such that they could not possibly make a will in the first place. Perhaps they were suffering from dementia or some other impairment of the mind which meant that they could not understand the effects of making a will, or of the assets at their disposal, or of the various moral claims to provision that they ought to have considered (such as making provision for you!). The will may be invalid if it makes the kind of provision that would not have been made had the will maker not been suffering from the disorder of the mind. If a contested probate case shows that the will is invalid, then the position reverts back to the situation that existed immediately before the will was made. A previous will may be reactivated, or the laws of intestacy may apply. It is important for you to understand what will happen if the will is invalid. Before you pursue such a claim, make sure that you benefit from the result.
Do you want to enforce a promise that was made to you?
Did the will maker asks you to provide some kind of assistance in return for a promise that your reward will be provided through the Will? For example, were you asked for regular care services for the rest of their life in return for provision through the will? Or did you work in their business for little or no reward, in return for a promise of inheriting the business through the will? Were you asked to provide some financial benefit, or a share in property, in return for an assurance that greater provision will be made for you through the Will? Did you then discover that the will was never made, or that the provisions are very different? Even though you provided the requested service, the promised reward was not provided to you? If you contest the will, the courts will likely uphold the terms of your bargain, so that you can receive the promised benefit.
Do you want to enforce a promise made to another?
Sometimes, two people decide to combine their assets and bequeath them in a specific way. Really, they each wish to benefit their own individual cause, and worry that the other might change the bequest if they die. So, they make a promise to honour the agreement and never to change the will in the future. This is frequently seen when a couple marries later in life. They have each been married before, and they each bring their own assets to the new relationship. More importantly, they each wish to make provision for their own children. They each worry that the other will cut their children out if they die. So, they make similar wills that provide agreed bequests to both parties’ children, and more importantly, they promise never to change the wills in the future. However, after the first partner dies, the second goes back on the promise and does change the will at the expense of the former’s children. If you have been disinherited in these circumstances, and you challenge the will, the court will likely uphold the terms of the promise so that you receive what was intended for you and you become a beneficiary of the will.
Do you want to show that the will does not reflect the will-maker’s true intentions?
Have you ceased to be a beneficiary of a will because the will maker was influenced into cutting you out? Have you been disinherited because the will maker was manipulated? If there is evidence that the terms of a will do not reflect the true intentions of the will-maker due to pressure applied by another, then the Will is invalid. If you contest probate and dispute the will, it is likely that the position that existed immediately before the invalid will was made will be re-established. Make sure that you benefit from the previous situation.
Do you want to show that the will is defective?
You can challenge a will if it was never made properly in the first place. There are many reasons why a will might be invalid. For example, it might not have been witnessed properly, or might not have been witnessed at all. It may even be that a witness to the will is also a beneficiary. You should also consider if specific events have caused the whole of, or part of, a perfectly valid will to be revoked. For example, the will maker might have destroyed the will. If the will maker was known to keep the original will in his possession, and it cannot be found after his death, it will be presumed that the will has been destroyed. If a person makes a will, and then subsequently marries, the will is usually revoked by the marriage. If a person makes a will and then divorces, then any provision made for the partner is revoked. You should contest probate if you if the will being invalid, or will being revoked, benefits you?
Do you want to ensure that you receive your existing entitlement?
Are you a beneficiary of a will? Are the executors preventing you from receiving your entitlement? In such circumstances you should seek to enforce the terms of the will, or seek to have the beneficiaries removed or replaced?