QUESTION > How can I avoid my will being successfully challenged?

ANSWER > Wills are challenged for many reasons; eg lack of capacity, ‘undue influence’, failure to provide for certain people or technical defects.

It is impossible to prevent a disgruntled person bringing a challenge, but you can make your will as robust as possible.

1 Pick your solicitor/will writer with care – choose a recognised specialist and check if they are a member of STEP (Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners). There are stringent membership criteria, so you can be confident they have relevant knowledge and expertise.

2 Give instructions directly in person – avoid a beneficiary giving instructions on your behalf and attending the appointment with you if possible; this can excite suspicion of undue influence. If this is unavoidable ensure the reasons are recorded

3 Letters of wishes – if disinheriting anyone who might expect to benefit, or treating children unequally, then it is recommended that you have a letter of wishes written with objective legal advice. This should be clear, concise and not hostile or emotive.

4 Medical evidence – if you suspect that your will could be challenged owing to mental health issues or age, obtain medical evidence. You should seek professional advice to instruct a suitable practitioner to provide a report. Where a will is challenged on these grounds, the report and letter of instruction will be scrutinised. A one-line doctor’s letter won’t suffice.

5 Gifts – if you leave someone out of your will who might ordinarily expect to benefit, consider leaving a small gift and include the justification of your position. This will demonstrate that you had given due consideration.

For more call Jennifer McGuinness on 230000 or email