What are the most common forms of inheritance dispute?

Published 07 Jul 2015

Author: Richele Nelsen

Inheritance disputes can cover a wide range of different issues, so there is always an option if you're unhappy with how the estate of a loved one is being handled.

This article will cover some of the common reasons why an individual may want the courts to make a ruling on cases involving the distribution of a deceased person's assets.

For a more detailed explanation of inheritance disputes, please contact a contesting wills lawyer to discuss the specifics of your case. 

1. Family provision claim

If you feel the deceased has not adequately provided for you in their will, you can launch a family provision claim. This allows eligible people to present evidence as to why they should have received a greater share of the estate.

Spouses, children and dependents are all entitled to file a claim. The courts will take into account the individual's personal relationship to the deceased, financial situation and a range of other factors.

2. Challenging the validity of the will

There are many circumstances where a will's validity may be called into question. For example, family or friends may suspect the deceased was under undue influence while writing the document or lacked the mental capacity to be making serious decisions regarding their assets.

You may also challenge the will if you believe the document is a forgery. This is more likely in situations where a will is unsigned or the signing wasn't witnessed. 

3. Executor disputes

When an executor is not performing the duties expected of them, they can be removed from their role. Various people may decide to apply to the courts for this purpose, including beneficiaries and other executors.

The removal of an executor can be difficult, as claimants must prove the individual is guilty of serious misconduct. Other reasons to pursue a inheritance dispute may include a lack of physical or mental capacity or if they have committed a crime.

4. Trust/trustee disputes

Testamentary trusts give the testator - the person writing a will - the power to provide for a beneficiary without giving them the assets upfront. For example, money can be held in the trust until the beneficiary reaches a nominated age or fulfils certain obligations.

These arrangements also allow the deceased to set aside funds for the care of a vulnerable adult, child or pet. A trustee oversees the trust, however, an individual can challenge either the terms of the arrangement or the appointed trustee.

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