Common causes of inheritance disputes

Published 06 Sep 2013

The very nature of inheritance disputes makes them difficult to discuss openly among families.

It is, afterall, going against a loved one’s last will. However, filing an inheritance dispute claim doesn’t have to be an unnerving action, nor does it have to be seen as an aggressive or sneaky act against family members.

Often, these claims are filed because of the way the testator wrote the will, and the problems can be traced back to when the document was being originally drafted.

At the most basic level, a will must be drawn, signed and witnessed according to state law. If the testator fails to perform any of these basic steps, it can compromise the validity of the will, opening up a whole world of legal battles. Although this is relatively easy to avoid, it is still a point of contention, and invalid documents are certainly a reason to contest a will.

You also shouldn’t have a problem contesting a will if you feel the wishes of the testator are not clearly expressed. This may be due to a number of factors, ranging from a solicitor misunderstanding a request to the potential diminished capacity of the deceased at the time the will was written.

Understanding ‘close personal relationships’

If you’re debating whether to get in touch with contesting wills lawyers or not, it may help to know that many people will have a strong case if they can prove they were in a close personal relationship with the testator.

Even if you are not a blood relative of the deceased, there are several instances in which you may be entitled to part of the estate, and thus shouldn’t feel uncomfortable about approaching family members with a dispute.

Regardless if you are a spouse, de facto partner, child, ex-spouse, dependent or even any other relationship, you may want to file a claim. You will, however, need proof that you lived with the testator, and had a relationship in which each depended on the other to some degree.

Filing an inheritance claim doesn’t have to be a messy affair. If you are well versed in what you are or aren’t entitled to, the whole process can be made much simpler. The best way to learn more is to speak with a contesting wills lawyer who can take a deep look at your unique case.

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