What can I do if I have been left out of a will?

Published 30 Dec 2013

Addressing the loss of a loved one – especially a close family member – can be very difficult.

In addition to mourning the death of your family member, you must also address the practical matters of settling his or her estate – and things can be complicated further if you feel as though you have been unfairly left out in the will.

Because this is a situation you have likely never experienced before, it is understandable that you may feel a bit overwhelmed or confused about what to do next.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go through the process alone. It is wise to seek out help from an experienced contesting wills lawyer who operates on a no win no fee basis – this means you only will be required to pay legal fees if your case is successful.

Next, you may want to ask yourself a number of questions to determine whether or not you want to proceed with your case.

What is my relationship to the deceased person?

The law in NSW allows only certain people to contest a will. Generally, you need to be the husband, wife or de facto partner of the deceased person, or one of his or her children or grandchildren to make an application for a Family Provision Order.

In certain cases, other individuals who were involved in a close, personal relationship with the deceased may also be eligible to contest the will, depending on the circumstances.

How long do I have to prepare my case?

Applications for a Family Provision Order must be made within 12 months from the date of the individual’s death. This time limit is usually enforced strictly, although some exceptions can be made in certain circumstances, as long as they can be proven to the court.

What kind of evidence will I need to provide?

Many people find gathering the relevant evidence to contest a will to be challenge – but fortunately, this is where your experienced contesting will lawyer can help.

You will likely need to provide as much information about the deceased’s financial affairs and will as you possibly can. You will also need to show evidence of your relationship with this individual, any financial promises he or she may have made to you during their lifetime, and information about your own financial circumstances, including your outstanding debts.

Make sure you ask your lawyer questions when you feel uncertain of what to do next – he or she will help to guide you through the process and ensure everything goes according to plan.

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