Why do people contest Wills in Australia?
Published 01 Nov 2018
Author: David Cossalter
The death of a loved one is a heart-breaking experience that has a lasting impact on the people left behind. Coming to terms with this loss can be even harder for family members who are upset or confused by the estate planning decisions of the person who has passed away.
Everyone’s motivation for contesting a Will is different, but we’ve compiled a list of the most common reasons that we’ve encountered for pursuing a Will dispute.
1. Financial need
Approximately one-third (32 per cent) of claimants say they need financial support and don’t believe a loved one’s Will has adequately provided for them, according to the 2015 Having the Last Word report. A family provision claim enables eligible individuals to challenge a Will in court and potentially secure a larger share of the deceased’s estate.
2. Exclusion or uneven distribution
Some people may be financially stable but can feel betrayed if they are left out of a Will or the distribution of assets isn’t equal. For example, individuals regularly pursue claims if they receive less from a parent’s estate than their siblings.
3. Family feuds
The Having the Last Word report, compiled by Victoria University and other academic institutions, revealed that 62 per cent of Will disputes occur because of complex family relationships. Of these, over one-third are due to the testator marrying a new spouse prior to their death, while 25 per cent relate to additional children or stepchildren in the family.
4. Ambiguity or errors in the Will
Enlisting the services of a professional is vital when drafting a Will, yet there is always a risk that a testator’s final wishes aren’t clear after their death. If this ambiguity has an impact on the estate’s distribution, beneficiaries may want the courts to clarify any confusion.
5. The Will is potentially invalid
The validity of a Will may be called into question for various reasons. This includes situations where the deceased:
- Lacked testamentary capacity.
- Didn’t follow the correct processes for writing a Will.
- Was pressured or coerced during the Will-making process.
- Didn’t write the Will (forgeries).
How do I contest a Will?
Inheritance disputes can be a complex and time-consuming process, so it’s important to discuss your intentions with a qualified Wills and estates lawyer before you proceed.
At Gerard Malouf & Partners Will Dispute Lawyers, we have experience of handling all types of Will contestation in Australia. Contact us today for a free consultation.