Steps to take to contest a will

Published 02 May 2014

When you make the decision to contest a will, it is very important that you follow the correct procedures and requirements in order to maintain the legitimacy of your claim.

The first step is to decide whether the inheritance dispute you are making is due to the validity of the will or to obtain a share of the estate through a family provision claim.

Decide on the type of claim

The main difference between these two contesting wills channels is the whether you intend to challenge the entire legitimacy of the will or are simply seeking to claim your fair amount of the deceased estate.

Validity complaints typically arise when the deceased was incapable of understanding the impacts of making his or her will when the document was signed. Common conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease can lead to wills being declared invalid, while suspicious influence by beneficiaries can also call legitimacy of a will into question.

Alternatively, even when a will is valid, family members are able to make family provision claims if they feel they have been unfairly treated in the document. These circumstances often arise when the deceased chooses to leave large portions of their estate to a single individual or even passes their assets onto charity without considering the financial needs of their family.

Determine your eligibility

To help protect an individual’s right to leave their estate to whomever they choose, the NSW Succession Act 2006 means only eligible individuals can contest a will. These people include direct family members, spouses, de facto partners and any people who were ever financially dependent on the deceased.

You must fall into one of these categories to be able to bring action against a deceased person’s estate. Additionally, if you are making a family provision claim, you are also required to prove there was a moral obligation for the deceased to care for you financially.

Contact a contesting wills lawyer

Due to the highly complex nature of estate disputes and family provision claims, it is recommended that you contact a contesting wills lawyer as soon as possible.

These professionals can help you determine your eligibility and build a solid case regarding either the will’s validity, or the deceased’s moral obligation to improve your social standing.

If you believe a family member’s will to be invalid, or that you have been unfairly treated in regards to a loved one’s estate, get in touch with the contesting wills lawyers at Gerard Malouf Partners today.

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