The decision to contest a will should never be taken lightly, but if you feel you could have a strong case and may be eligible to do so, an important thing to do is to gather as much evidence to support your claim as possible.
In New South Wales, only certain people are able to contest a will under the Succession Act – your eligibility is largely determined by your relationship to the deceased individual.
For example, if you are the husband, wife or de facto partner of the deceased person, or you are a child, grandchild or former spouse of this individual, you may be able to apply for a Family Provision Order. In some cases, you can also contest a will if you were involved in a close, personal relationship with the deceased individual where domestic support and personal care took place.
If you meet these criteria, the next step is to work with your contesting wills lawyer to put together appropriate evidence for your case.
You will need to summarise the relationship you had with the deceased person and disclose the details of any financial support he or she may have provided to you prior to death.
It is also essential that you provide detailed information about the deceased individual’s assets, as well as your own. For example, if you require money for educational costs or to repay debts, you must disclose this information. If possible, you should also provide a copy of the will or give your lawyer information about how to obtain a copy.
Next, you will need to provide a summary – including as much supporting evidence as you can – of why you think you should have been left funds. This evidence could include promises made to you by the deceased person about financial benefits you will receive, or details about any household assistance or services you may have provided during his or her lifetime.
You may also need to provide information about the beneficiaries currently named in the will, including details about their financial status if possible. Depending on the circumstances, you may also need to supply details about the deceased individual’s mental state at the time he or she created the will.
While this process may seem daunting at first, it is important to remember that you don’t need to go through it alone. Experienced contesting wills lawyers can help you through every stage of the process and will ensure you have the best possible chance of making a successful claim.