Suspicious alterations result in contesting wills claim

Published 17 Dec 2015

There are a range of different conditions a person needs to meet before they can create a will, and any exceptions to this can lead to a contesting wills claim if people believe an amendment should not be legally recognised.

While the NSW government advises that blended families and other relationships can increase the likelihood of a will being contested, there are other situations where this process is necessary.

If people believe a will has been incorrectly tampered with, or a person was coerced into making certain changes, it’s essential that it is challenged in a court of law.

A recent case in NSW illustrated some of things to keep an eye out for if an estate distribution doesn’t seem correct.

Tampered will results in family contesting a will

In a recent Supreme Court case in NSW, a will was contested after there was a disagreement over whether they deceased actually signed off on the document of his own free will. According to the case, the man passed away with no children or spouse, leaving an estate of around $2 million.

Despite this, the plaintiff in this case – who wrote the will for the deceased – awarded all of the estate to his wife, with the exception of a couple of charitable donations to nearby hospitals.

The court noted there were suspicious circumstances surrounding the signing of the will, an event which occurred five months before the deceased’s passing.

The issue of the will’s validity arose as it was difficult to prove that the testator was aware of the contents of the will and what his signature was agreeing to. This new will was suspicious as its creation did not follow the same trends as the deceased’s previous versions.

The deceased had his previous wills prepared by his solicitors, and in one case removed the provision of any items to the plaintiff, who’s relationship grew from the fact they were neighbours.

The deceased’s final will was not prepared by his usual solicitor, and instead was created by the current plaintiff – a dentist with no qualification or experience creating wills. The hearing revealed that the final copy the plaintiff prepared did not reflect the deceased’s wishes for the amount he wanted to donate to charity, sparking the cause for suspicion.

To find out more about contesting a will and what you need to look out for, contact the team and Gerard Malouf and Partners.

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