Can I Contest My Uncle’s Will?

By Lucy Warwick-Ching

invitation to tea, wills

My elderly uncle died recently, leaving his substantial estate to his two sons. He was for many years providing financial support to my mother, his sister, who suffers from a debilitating illness.

When I tried to raise the possibility of ongoing support with the sons, they said in as many words that I should support her myself. Unfortunately my salary means I am in no position to do so. Would my mother, who is sound of mind if not of body, be able to make a legal claim against them?

Nicholas Yapp, partner at Gordon Dadds, says your mother may have the right to make a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975 on the basis that his will failed to make reasonable financial provision for her. This is because immediately before his death your mother was being wholly or partly supported financially by him.

Whether or not your mother’s case passes this “threshold test” of maintenance depends on the facts. The Court operates a commonsense approach to the question of “immediately before the date of death” and normally it will be enough to demonstrate that there was a recognisable pattern of payments made by your uncle to your mother by way of financial support.

These must have continued until his death and must not have been ended by a cessation of payments or an expression by your uncle of an intention to cease making such payments at a time before his death. In general, the longer the period for which such payments were made, the better the prospects of a successful claim.

You will need to be able to show evidence of the payments made, the basis on which they were made and the period over which they were made. Balanced against any claim which your mother may make will be the needs of any other beneficiaries of your uncle’s will, including those of his sons, to the extent that they may claim that reasonable provision has not been made for them in the will, as well as the needs of any other claimant.

If your mother intends to bring a claim she should do so not later than six months after the date on which the grant of probate was taken out. The Court enforces this time limit strictly. As a result of changes to the law, which came into effect on October 1 2014, your mother no longer has to wait for the grant to be taken out before making her claim.

Source: Financial Times


Patricia Annino is a sought after speaker and nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning. She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about. Annino recently released her new book, “It’s More Than Money, Protect Your Legacy” available at To download Annino’s FREE eBook, Estate Planning 101 visit,

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