Larry King: Contesting A Handwritten WillFeb 22, 2021
You may have read that the Widow of American talk show host, Larry King, is challenging his handwritten Will. Shawn King is suggesting that Mr King was of “questionable mental capacity” when he made the it. The challenge will proceed through the Los Angeles County Probate Court.
Here in England and Wales similar challenges are possible through the High Court. As well as lack of legal capacity, challenges can be made on a number of grounds. These include, lack of knowledge of the contents of the Will, undue influence, fraud and technical challenges. Technical challenges surround the legal formalities of the Will such as the requirement to sign or acknowledge the signature in the presence of two witnesses. The technicalities are important which is why we always advise clients to have one professionally drawn.
What is the process?
Cases which challenge the validity of a Will are never easy but it can be a relatively inexpensive process to make initial enquiries, especially if it has been professionally drafted. This involves us writing to the solicitor who drafted the Will asking a number of questions to seek to establish the Testator’s state of mind and intentions when giving the Will instructions to the solicitor or Will writer.
The results of these enquiries will often be determinative of whether a full blown challenge should be mounted. This is another good reason to pay a solicitor to draft your Will. The drafting solicitor will have in mind the possible challenges which could be made. They will ensure in so far as is possible that the Will and the file notes behind it are as watertight as possible.
Things to bear in mind
Challenging the validity of a Will, should not be confused with the other route open to disappointed beneficiaries is to make a claim for reasonable provision under the 1975 Inheritance Act. The difference here is that whilst the Will is a valid document the Court can declare that it has not made reasonable provision for the beneficiary such as a spouse or cohabitee.
These claims are often more straightforward and less expensive to pursue. In order to make a claim you have to “qualify” to make the claim. Apart from spouses and partners we often see enquiries from children who have been financially dependant on the Deceased. In fact anyone who can show that the were financially dependant may be able to pursue a claim. It is good to remember that dependency is not just receiving cash but could be having free or heavily subsidized accommodation.
If you think you may have a claim please contact our Inheritance Disputes specialist, Mike Shiers on 01752 827025. You can also email Mike at [email protected] or request a call back by clicking the image above.