Will & Estate Disputes

Will & Estate Disputes

Have you been left out of a will?

Being left out of a will can be painful and confusing. You may feel like there’s nothing you can do, especially if the will is legally valid. However, you may have a claim on the estate even if the will is valid:

  • If you were dependent on or related to the deceased, or
  • If the will doesn’t reflect the deceased’s true intentions

These are just two reasons why you might contest even a valid will.

Grieving a loss while contesting a will is challenging, especially if it means going against family. That’s why your first step should be to get advice, so you have clarity about your options before speaking out. A lawyer can advise you if the will might be invalid, as well as what claims you might have even if the will is valid.

What you need to do before you contest a will

There’s no point creating or inflaming a delicate situation if you might not have a claim. That’s why it’s important to get proper legal advice first.

Speed matters, too. First, there are strict time limits on making claims against estates. Second, it will be harder to recover your share of an estate that has already been distributed among the beneficiaries.

Reasons to contest a will

Wills might be contested for several reasons. Reasons for will disputes include:

  • Unfairness
  • The validity of the will
  • Issues with the executor (if they delay or don’t follow the will)
  • Disagreements about what to do with property in the estate

The most common reasons to dispute a will

The most common causes of will disputes are:

  • Someone feeling they should have been included in the will
  • Someone feeling that they were left too little from the estate

These may both be valid claims. That’s because a will is not always the final word on who gets how much. This can be true even when everyone agrees the will accurately reflects the deceased’s wishes.

Family provision claims

Legally, there are some people who can’t be left out of a will, even if that’s exactly what the deceased wanted.

If you were left out of a will, whether you were dependent or not on the deceased, you may be able to make a family provision claim. That’s because the law says an estate must provide for relatives or people in a relationship with the deceased in some circumstances.

If you make this type of claim, the law will take into consideration the size of the estate, your relationship with the deceased and, most critically, your needs.

Examples of situations that might lead to a successful family provision claim include situations where:

  • A nephew is left out of his aunt’s will, although he was living with her and she was supporting him financially
  • A father leaves everything to his new wife
  • A person makes a new will leaving everything to a cleaner, a doctor or a friend after briefly regaining mental capacity despite being in the advanced stages of dementia
  • Parents think a child wouldn’t spend an inheritance wisely or that the child has had its share in the parents’ lifetime

Small bequests can be made larger

People are often advised that a will can’t be contested by anyone who has received at least something from the estate. This is not true. The law has a view on:

  • Who should be included in a will, and
  • How much should be left to those people

The answers to both these questions depend on the individual circumstances of a case, which is why you should get legal advice about your situation.

Do you need help with an estate dispute?

If you are considering contesting a will, the reasons you might do so vary depending on your situation. Our lawyers are experienced with will disputes, so they can help you to navigate this difficult process with sensitivity and expertise. To find out if we could help with your particular case, please call us on 1300 286 578.

Let us help you

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