Grandchildren do not have an automatic right to contest a will in the UK, but certain factors can give them the entitlement to challenge a will if they desire.
There are many rules surrounding the contesting of wills in the UK. There are only limited reasons why you could challenge a will, and only certain family members are able to. This list can vary, depending on circumstances.
With that in mind, read on to find out whether grandchildren can contest a will in the UK and the circumstances that impact the decision.
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Firstly, it’s worth clarifying the process in contesting a will in the UK. There are three main reasons why you may wish to challenge a will when someone has died. Either you believe the will isn’t valid, you believed the executor isn’t following instructions, or you believe you are due financial provision which hasn’t been accounted for in the will.
Whether you’re challenging the validity of a will or you’re looking for your fair provision, you’re hoping that the will is invalidated and instead the estate is decided upon based on intestacy laws. We cover this further below, but in short, this would see the estate divided automatically between the family, in priority order.
There are various reasons you might feel a will isn’t valid. It could be that you don’t believe the ‘testator’ (the person who wrote the will before they died) was of sound mind, either due to illness, old age or they could have been coerced.
It may be that the testator wasn’t made aware of the contents of the will, and have signed the document under duress. Or perhaps you even believe the will is fraudulent, with a forged signature.
Whatever your reasons for challenging a will, your aim is to see that the deceased’s estate is divided fairly. Challenging a will is a costly and time-consuming exercise and should, therefore, only be undertaken if you are convinced you will win. Otherwise, you could find yourself facing many thousands of pounds in legal costs both for yourself and the executor you’ve challenged.
Under normal circumstances, grandchildren do not qualify to contest a will in the UK. Normally, you have to be either married to the deceased or in a civil partnership or be a direct child of the deceased. These people are automatically classified as eligible persons under the Family Provision Act if they need to contest a will.
However, there are two factors to be considered, which could result in a grandchild being able to make a claim. Both of these additional factors must be considered, and if neither is true, then the grandchild cannot make a claim.
The first point that the grandchild must prove is that they were financially dependent on the deceased. If they can show evidence of continued and consistent financial support paid by the grandparent to the grandchild, then they can argue that the will should have included provision for them to also receive part of the estate.
This needs to be actual financial support too. Presents for birthdays, and other occasional gifts, don’t count and will see your case thrown out immediately. It must be the support that you depend on in order to live.
And that leads to the second factor that must be proven, which is that you need a provision from the will based on your own financial circumstances. If you are actually relatively well off, but you feel like your grandparent should have left you money anyway, then you won’t get very far with your claim.
Grandchildren must essentially prove that they would normally have received the money and that they need it before they can contest a will to claim a share of any estate.
It may be the case that you’re the child of someone who dies, and you have children of your own. The deceased may have provided for you but not specifically for their grandchildren, and you may wish to make a claim on their behalf. You can do so if your children are under 18, but the same rules will apply.
You’ll have to show that you wouldn’t actually be supporting the children with your own sum and that the children need the money that they would otherwise have received. So you’ll have to prove that your parents would normally be the providers for your children.
It’s very unlikely that this will be a successful challenge – most grandchildren that win a challenge against a will are those whose parents are absent or have already died. If you’re making a claim on behalf of your children, be prepared to explain why your own inheritance doesn’t cover them.
Grandchildren may have rights under intestacy if no will was ever written, or if a will is challenged and then invalidated.
Intestacy is the process of dividing an estate where a valid will doesn’t exist. It has a priority order for who is due a share of the estate, and this can sometimes include grandchildren. However, they are always a lower priority than either the spouse/partner of the deceased or their children.
So, for a grandchild to benefit from intestacy, their other grandparent must have already died along with their parents, or there must be another reason they aren’t entitled to their inheritance.
The only other circumstance is if their parent is alive, but under the age of 18, and then dies before they reach 18 and are entitled to their share. If that’s the case, then the grandchildren will inherit equal shares that will also be protected until they turn 18.
In most cases, where the children of the deceased are still alive, they will be expected to make financial provisions for their children from their own share, since they will be the ones with continued financial responsibility for them. Even if the grandchildren are adults, they can’t expect to have a legal claim on their grandparents’ estates unless they can show they require the money to live.
You can find out more information about intestacy, and follow a handy questionnaire which tells you who will inherit an estate, using the UK government’s website.
In summary, in most cases, grandchildren won’t be able to make a claim against a will unless they can prove that they required the money and would otherwise have received it. If other family members have already died, then the likelihood is that the estate will pass to grandchildren, but they are not top of the priority list otherwise.
If you rely on your grandparents and have been raised by them directly, there is a good chance you can make a claim. But you should speak to a solicitor to find out more, as they can advise you on the chances of success before you commit to a potentially lengthy and costly challenge.
Here at Money Savings Advice, we have partnered with some of the UK’s leading Contested Probate claim management companies. They have already helped thousands of people make successful probate claims and they can do the same for you.
Choosing an independent claims management company means they won’t proceed with a claim unless they are sure it is in your best interests. They are also regulated by the FCA, which gives you an additional layer of protection.
If you would like to speak to one of these claim management companies who can help you make a probate claim, then click on the below and answer the very simple questions.
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