"A closer look at lack of knowledge as a trigger to contest a will"
When a person makes a Will, it is essential that they know the contents of that Will, and that those contents are approved by them. If they do not have knowledge and approval of the Will, then it will be invalid and grounds to contest a will may arise.
There are many circumstances which may raise suspicion that the deceased did not have knowledge or approval of the contents of their Will. These include Wills which:-
1. Are “home-made” where no professional advice was obtained;
2. Contain wording which the deceased was unlikely to have been able to understand where there was no explanation given by a professional;
3. Make significant changes from previous Wills without any reason or explanation; or
4. Are complex and no proper explanation was given to the deceased as to how the clauses would operate.
The above are only examples; each case is different and will have different features.
If there are circumstances which arouse the suspicion of the Court, then the onus will be on those seeking to rely on the Will to dispel those suspicions. They would need to provide some form of evidence to show that the deceased did, in fact, have knowledge and approval of the content of their Will.
If the Court is satisfied that the deceased did not have knowledge and approval of their Will, then it will declare the Will invalid and the estate will pass under the previous Will or, if no previous Will exists, under the rules of intestacy.
If you wish to contest a will on the grounds of lack of knowledge, or for any other reason, it is important to act promptly. For more information, please contact Graeme Stenson