A loved one had assets not included in the will. What can I do?

Published 21 Aug 2018

Losing someone is an emotional time. Surviving friends and relatives must face a future without their loved one and find ways to come to terms with their passing.

Many people are left with feelings of uncertainty, particularly if they were financially dependent on the deceased. The estate planning process is designed to provide peace of mind, but what can you do if you believe a loved one had assets they did not disclose in a will? Here are some of your options:

1. Check with the executor of the estate

There may be a perfectly reasonable explanation for why particular assets are not mentioned in the will. The deceased may have sold them prior to their death, or perhaps they are being distributed another way (superannuation is often handled separately from the will, for example).

Obtain a copy of the will to find out who benefited from the estate and then contact the executor if you are worried about missing assets. They may be able to give you more information about your loved one's estate to put your mind at ease.

2. Get in touch with a will disputes lawyer

You may still be unhappy after chatting to the executor, especially if you believe assets are missing or have been deliberately hidden. But these are serious accusations, so you should contact an experienced will disputes lawyer to discuss your next move.

Is it the deceased or the administrators of the estate that you suspect may have concealed funds or belongings? Again, there may be a good reason the will doesn't mention certain assets, but a specialist lawyer can inform you of NSW succession laws nonetheless.

3. Dispute the will

You may be entitled to make a claim on assets the deceased possessed even if they aren't technically part of the estate or included in the will. This could include superannuation benefits, jointly held property or assets held in a trust.

NSW's Succession Act 2006 gives the courts the power to designate these assets as 'notional estate'. This means they can be used to settle any family provision claims you make against the deceased's estate.

Contesting a will in NSW

The state's succession laws are complex, which means you'll need expert legal advice before contesting a will or making a family provision claim.

Gerard Malouf & Partners Will Dispute Lawyers offer a no-win, no-fee service to help you pursue legal action against the estate of a loved one, if necessary. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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