Published 11 Oct 2018
Writing a Will is a crucial first step when estate planning. However, this key document must be updated regularly to take into account major life changes, such as marriage, divorce and the birth of children.
But are there risks associated with amending a Will? Could a new Will have an impact on future provision claims made against the estate? The answer to both questions is yes, so let's examine three reasons why.
1. A new Will may not be valid
The Succession Act 2006 outlines how to draft a valid Will in NSW. The document must be in writing and signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses, who must also both sign it.
These criteria must be fulfilled every time a Will is created or updated. Failing to follow the necessary steps could invalidate the document and leave the estate more vulnerable to inheritance disputes. Without a valid Will, intestacy rules may also apply, leaving loved ones unsure about their financial future.
2. Disinherited family members could become upset
Many people choose to exclude relatives from their Will when relationships become strained or break down. Others may decide to disinherit family members if they believe their loved ones are already financially secure.
Whatever the reason, people who are cut out of a relative's Will are often left hurt and may decide to challenge the estate when they do not feel adequately provided for. Lawyers often advice people to provide clear reasons for why they are excluding close relatives from a Will to prevent future claims.
3. Updated Wills may be ambiguous
People are entitled to update their Will as often as they like, which is possible through drafting a completely new document or adding a codicil to an existing one. Codicils are typically preferred when the changes to a Will are relatively minor.
However, DIY Wills and codicils often contain contradictions or mistakes that could lead to future disputes. Even professionally written documents can sometimes contain ambiguities that require judicial intervention.
Contesting a loved one's Will
Pursuing a Will dispute is often a difficult choice to make, but it may be the only option available for people who do not feel they have received adequate provision from a loved one's estate.
At Gerard Malouf & Partners Will Dispute Lawyers, we provide a no-win, no-fee service to help clients settle legal matters relating to their inheritance. Contact us today to find out how we can assist you.