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Will disputes: What are suspicious circumstances?

One of the grounds commonly used to contest a will is that the testator didn’t know or approve the contents of their will.  This is called “want of knowledge and approval”.

The court will look at all of the ‘suspicious’ circumstances in connection with the disputed will when dealing with want of knowledge and approval allegations. Here are 7 things to look out for, which could be considered ‘suspicious’:

  1. The Will is homemade and no professional advice has been sought;
  2. The Will contains spelling mistakes and/or untrue statements and/or uses language which would not have been used or understood by the testator;
  3. The Will contains a radical change in dispositions made without a rational explanation and/or generally the dispositions cannot be rationally explained;
  4. The relationship of the beneficiary to the testator was not close;
  5. The witnesses to the Will were not sufficiently independent;
  6. There is evidence of the beneficiary having acted dishonestly, suspiciously or against the interests of the testator and/or having played a central role in the making of the Will;
  7. The testator lacked testamentary capacity and/or there is evidence generally of the testator’s mind failing.

If you believe someone’s will is invalid because they didn’t know or approve the contents, you should start investigating as soon as you can after their death because strict timescales apply.

By Karen Shakespeare, 27th May 2013.

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