Published 06 Oct 2015
Author: David Cossalter
If you are not close to your family, it is often your friends who will help guide you out of life's troubles - those friends we turn to in a crisis and enjoy growing old together.
When a friend passes away, it can be extremely difficult to cope, especially if you've known him or her since primary school. However, this pain can be felt deeper if the contents of their will don't match up to discussions you've had with the deceased in the past.
Am I eligible to contest my friend's will?
Unfortunately, under NSW and Commonwealth legislation, friends with no family connections are not automatically entitled to make claim for the provision of their estates. As friends aren't automatically eligible, you must prove you qualify under a different banner.
It is important to note at this point to launch this eligibility claim as soon as possible after the death. In NSW, there are set time parameters and no will can be contested after the 12-month mark. As such, engaging the services of a wills and estate lawyer is a great first step in this process.
Friends of the deceased can't contest a will unless you fall into one of two categories:
If you were wholly or partly dependent on the deceased for financial or other support measures at any time of your life, you could become an eligible party. Of course, you'll need to prove to the Court that this relationship existed and your level of dependency.
If successful in this bid, the Court will also determine what you receive as part of the estate. This will reflect your dependency on the deceased and how his or her death has impacted your livelihood.
Member of the household
The second, and last, way you can prove you are eligible to contest a will is if you were once an active member of a household that featured the deceased. This will confirm the relationship between you and the deceased and allows any friends to challenge the estate.
Again, evidence is required to confirm this living arrangement. This could include phone bills or renting contracts.
Contesting a will
It can sometimes be hard to work out whether you are eligible to contest a will. As such, it is vital to talk to a wills and estate lawyer who can guide you through every step of the journey.