Published 07 Apr 2015
Author: David Cossalter
When a person draws up a will, they nominate executors who are responsible for carrying out instructions regarding the distribution of their assets upon death.
In many cases, executors are friends or family members of the deceased and could even be a beneficiary of the will. Obviously, this could create a conflict of interest when it comes to an inheritance dispute.
If you are contesting a will, there is a chance the executor may withhold important information relating to the deceased's assets. This would most commonly involve understating the extent of the estate's value.
The probate documents may not list everything the testator outlined in the will, but if you suspect there is more to the estate than the executor is letting on, what can you do?
Seek legal advice
Contacting a contesting wills lawyer is the most important step towards unveiling the true value of the deceased's assets. A seasoned legal team can run searches on the testator's name and holdings, which can highlight any discrepancies from the executor.
They can also press for the appropriate documentation to verify details and ensure you have a better idea of the whole picture. Lawyers may also have access to investigators who can gather evidence on your behalf.
Consider a settlement carefully
An executor may withhold information on the estate in an effort to offer you a settlement that is below the value of what you could potentially be awarded if you pursue your case through the courts.
This means you should evaluate a settlement very carefully before accepting. You may want to refuse any agreement until you think you have an accurate valuation of the deceased's assets.
What if I have already received benefits?
In situations where the executor has distributed assets to you through the estate of the deceased, you can still challenge the will. If you do not feel you have been adequately provided for, you can launch a family provision claim to receive a greater share.
The executor can also be charged with a breach of their duties if your legal representation feels the individual has failed to meet their obligations to distribute assets legally and in accordance with the will.
If you have any questions about your rights to challenge a will, get in touch with Gerard Malouf & Partners. We are dedicated to offering premium services from experienced contesting wills lawyers in NSW.