Do You Have Grounds To Contest A Will?

The loss of a loved one is a traumatic experience for family and friends and money matters are often the last thing people want to think about in the wake of the bereavement. However, the will of the deceased can be contentious if people feel like he or she did not distribute their estate for the right reasons or if a spouse or child has not been provided for in the will. If you are unhappy with the provisions made in a will, you may have grounds to contest or challenge the will. Under Irish law, there are three main justifications for contesting a will.


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Of Sound Mind?

Firstly, you may be able to challenge a will on the basis that the testator (i.e. the deceased person who made the will) was not of sound mind when they devised the will. Such challenges are judged on a case-by-case basis and you must be able to prove that the testator was not of sound mind at the time. A person may be considered not to have had the required mental capacity to create a will if they were suffering from certain mental illnesses, dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Undue Influence

You may also decide to contest a will if you have reason to believe that the deceased was under undue influence at the time of the will’s creation. That is to say that a person (or persons) put the testator under pressure to write the will in a certain way that does not reflect the true wishes of the deceased. Once again, you must have substantial evidence of this claim and cases are judged on a case-by-case basis.

Family Members

Finally, perhaps the most common reason for a will to be contested is the lack of provisions for a family member in the will, be it a spouse or a child. Irish law mandates that a spouse is automatically entitled to a third of the deceased person’s estate, regardless of whether he or she has been written into the will. A spouse who has not been provided for or who has been left less than a third of the estate has six years to claim the portion of the estate to which they are entitled. In the case of a child of the deceased who feels they have not been adequately provided for, there is no such automatic entitlement, however the child may contest the will within six months on the grounds that their parent has not fulfilled their “moral duty” by adequately providing for them in the will. This window of time will not be extended under any circumstances.

If you are not satisfied with the will of a loved one, you may have grounds to contest that will, however it’s best to seek professional advice as soon as possible in order to ascertain whether you are entitled to challenge the will, as well as the fact that the time restrictions for contesting a will in Ireland are very strict.

This article was written by Grainne Scanlon, a solicitor specialising in inheritance law Ireland.

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