Challenging the Validity of the Will

If a will is successfully challenged, a previous will may come into effect or the intestacy provisions may apply. Such claims can be made on grounds which include:

Non-compliance with the formalities of execution, or subsequent revocation

A will won’t be valid if it is incorrectly executed. For example, if both witnesses are not present when the will is signed it won’t be valid. Also, it is possible for an otherwise valid will to have been revoked prior to death. For example, if a person has made a will and they later enter into a marriage, unless the will was made in contemplation of the marriage, the will is automatically revoked.

Lack of Mental Capacity or Knowledge and approval of the contents of the will by the testator

If an individual did not understand that they were signing a will or they did not understand its effects then the will is invalid. The legal test for whether someone has sufficient mental capacity to make a will was established in Banks v Goodfellow (1869-70) LR 5 QB 549. An example is where the Court has found the effects of a recent bereavement on an 89 year old constituted a condition rendering them without capacity to make a new will.

Undue influence or coercion being exerted on the testator

Putting pressure on an individual to make a will which does not reflect their true wishes can result in that will being declared invalid. The amount of pressure needed varies according to the relative strength of the deceased at the time they made the will. Pressure which causes someone to give in and make a will for a quiet life can be sufficient if the pressure is such that it overbears the testator’s free judgment.


Is a serious allegation and requires a high degree of proof. So it is often difficult but not impossible to prove.

There is a later will

If a later will is found after a grant of probate has been obtained, an application will need to be made to the Court to prove the later will and revoke the existing grant of probate.