It is never an easy task to decide whether or not to contest a will. While the heartbreak of losing a close family member or friend is tough enough, making the decision to challenge the contents of their will can have long term effects on not only yourself, but on others as well.
There are a number of benefits to contesting a will, but there is also some confusion as to what the process entails – which can make it difficult to proceed with a case with your case. In this situation, we have decided to take some of the guesswork out of the equation and bust three of the most common myths.
1) I don’t have to be related to the deceased
Under the NSW Succession Act 2006, there are a number of people who are eligible to challenge a will. While many of these are family members, there are also some categories that can include people who are not directly related to the deceased.
This can include partners in a de facto relationship, those who at any particular time were wholly or partly dependent on the deceased or anyone else was in a close personal relationship when they died.
If you are challenging a will and are not a family member, then you will have to prove to the Court that the relationship did indeed exist. Evidence of this could be shared bills, photographs or other written notes.
2) If I’m eligible, I’ll win the case
It is important to understand that just because you are eligible to contest the will, you aren’t guaranteed to win your claim. The deceased can choose to include anyone or anything in their will which could leave you with nothing.
However, what the court will consider is if your maintenance, education or advancement in life has been affected by the will not providing you with any assets. A contesting wills lawyer can advise you on your personal situation in more detail.
3) There is no time limit
To ensure that cases to do last more than a couple of years, the NSW Succession Act 2006 states that an application must be made within 12 months of the death.
If you do miss this date, the applicant is able to ask the Court to extend the time. However, in this case, it is recommended to seek the assistance of a contesting wills lawyer as this process can be very complex.