Executors of a will must apply for grant of probate in order to begin the process of dealing with the deceased’s last wishes, including the distribution of assets to beneficiaries.
During this process, the executor will provide an estimated or known value of the estate, as well as an inventory of property. The inventory includes real estate, cash held in bank accounts, furniture, jewellery and a range of other possessions and assets that the deceased owned.
You may have access to probate documents when making the decision to contest a will of a loved one, but what are your options if you feel the executor has undervalued the estate? Whether intentional or accidental, there may be assets available for distribution that haven’t been accounted for.
Talk to the executor
There may be a simple explanation for why assets are missing from the probate documents. For example, investments may have been sold off in order to cover liabilities or other costs.
Before considering an inheritance dispute, you may first want to discuss your concerns with the executor of the estate. They should be able to give you more information on the deceased’s financial standing at the time of their death.
Contact a contesting wills lawyer
Executors may hide assets for a number of reasons, whether it’s to reduce the costs of probate or prevent claimants from pursuing additional provisions through a will dispute.
If you feel this is the case, contact an experienced contesting wills lawyer to investigate on your behalf. Firms such as Gerard Malouf & Partners Will Dispute Lawyers can conduct various searches against the deceased’s name and assets, as well as apply pressure on executors to disclose key documents about the estate.
Seek mediation or a court hearing
You may be offered a settlement once you begin proceedings to contest the will, but executors are not required to reveal the full value of the estate during this stage.
Refusing the settlement enables you to move on to the mediation stage, where you will have greater access to all the information you need about the deceased’s assets. If other avenues fail, you can take the matter to court where a judge will decide the outcome of your dispute.