How successful are will challenges?

Published 08 Mar 2016

The death of loved ones is a challenging time that can be made considerably more stressful when inheritance disputes arise. However, in certain circumstances, there may be no other option than to contest a will.

For instance, you may feel the document was invalid or the deceased made inadequate provisions for you from their estate. But what are your chances of success if you decide to proceed with a case? Well, every situation is unique and the outcomes depend on a variety of factors that the courts must consider.

Nevertheless, there is evidence to suggest that contesting wills often brings positive results for the plaintiff. A 2015 report from the University of Queensland, Victoria University and the Queensland University of Technology showed the majority of will challenges are successful.

The 'Having the Last Word?' study analysed various data sets and revealed 74 per cent of judicial review cases led to a shift in the distribution of an estate. A separate analysis of public trustee files found a 77 per cent success rate. Either way, it appears approximately three-quarters of contesting will claims are worthwhile.

According to the research, you can expect the best chance of receiving a favourable result if you are a current or former spouse or partner. Eighty-three per cent of these cases were successful. Cases launched by children and extended family won 76 and 73 per cent of the time, respectively.

What factors will the courts consider?

You could be contesting a will for various reasons. You may be unhappy with the distribution of the estate or feel the deceased did not have the testamentary capacity to produce their will.

There could also be suspicions that the will is forged or someone pressured the testator into writing the document. As there are so many different circumstances under which an inheritance dispute can occur, predicting which factors are important is extremely difficult.

You should therefore contact a contesting wills lawyer as early as possible when you're considering pursuing a claim. An experienced law firm can guide you through the process and offer you advice on whether or not your case is likely to succeed.

Furthermore, no-win, no-fee lawyers will cover the upfront costs of your claim, so you can rest assured that you won't suffer any financial losses in the event that a settlement does not go in your favour.

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