How to use DNA tests to challenge a will

Provision for Family and Dependants

DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid and is a genetic code found in the nucleus of every cell in our body. Each person’s genetic code is unique and determines everything from our eye colour to health issues that we might encounter at one point in our life.  Although roughly 99.9% of DNA in humans is identical, it is that 0.001% that makes us who we are and it has even been suggested that our DNA can establish certain aspects of our personality.

How is DNA testing carried out?

The procedure of a genetic test is the same regardless of the results you’re hoping to achieve. First, the person collecting the DNA sample will rub the inside of person’s cheek with a small brush or cotton swab to collect as many buccal cells as possible. From there, a DNA test can identify someone’s genetic identity, diagnose a disease or help medical professionals to understand the severity of the disease.

Contesting a will

You can contest a will on one or more of the following grounds:

  • The Will has not been correctly executed
  • The testator lacks the mental capacity
  • The testator lacks the knowledge or approval of the contents of their Will
  • The testator was subject to undue influence
  • The Will is forged or fraudulent

A person can also make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 if they believe that it is invalid, but they should always consult a solicitor. Sometimes, contesting a Will might involve gaining medical evidence to prove that the deceased was indeed a member of the same family. DNA testing can establish paternity, maternity and other biological relationships.


DNA testing in estate cases

In matters of estate, the alleged relation will be deceased and by the time a claim has been brought forward, also buried or cremated. In this case, DNA samples may still be obtained from dental work, autopsies or through a DNA bank. Sometimes it may even be possible to exhume a body to extract DNA. Other options include testing other living persons – such as parents or siblings – so that the laboratory can carry out a kinship analysis.  In many cases whereby someone is contesting a Will, a court-ordered DNA test will be necessary. This has to be carried out by an accredited body that can prove that they are working within government guidelines.

The advantages of DNA analysis

Before the DNA testing that we know today, forensic scientists could only compare blood groupings of those in question. This was not as accurate to determine the identity of the contester, but now scientists can provide much higher probabilities through any sample that contains nucleated cells such as hair, urine, semen or saliva. Another advantage is that DNA testing can allow small samples to be divided and submitted for testing by a number of laboratories, reducing the probability of error.

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