How do I prevent inheritance disputes when writing my will?

Published 03 Dec 2014

Author: David Cossalter

Leaving a valid will is the best way to limit the risk of an inheritance dispute occurring after your death.

While there is always a chance that someone may decide to contest your will, taking the necessary steps to produce a comprehensive document is recommended.

Before starting, you should also always seek expert advice from a wills lawyer in NSW to ensure you are fully aware of the details surrounding estate-planning regulations.

Making a valid will

There are several stipulations to meet when writing a will. If these are not met, the court may consider you to have died intestate, which essentially means without a will.

As such, the law requires that:
  • You are over 18 years old (unless married)
  • The will is handwritten or typed
  • The document is signed by you
  • The signing was witnessed by at least two people
  • You must have testamentary capacity

What is testamentary capacity?

A common area where people may decide to contest a will is when they feel the deceased did not have testamentary capacity.

This requires you to know the legal effects of your will and have a full understanding of who could have a claim on your assets. It is also important to know the full extent of your estate.

Testamentary capacity also means having a clean bill of mental health, so that the courts are confident you were able to make rational decisions when creating the document.

Problems could also arise if you are old or physically sick when you write or update a will.

Who is most likely to contest my will?

It is important that you account for anyone in your will that could potentially launch an inheritance dispute in the event of your death. This is because people who feel they have not been adequately provided for can file a family provision claim to contest the document.

Loved ones who believe you were coerced or pressured into making a will may also feel the courts should decide on how your estate is divided.

There are a number of people who are eligible for a family provision claim, including:

  • Spouses or de-facto partners
  • Children of the deceased
  • Former spouses
  • Anyone wholly or partly dependent on you
  • Grandchildren who are or who have ever been a member of the same household as you
  • People with whom you have a close personal relationship at the time of your death - this could include carers and domestic support providers
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