Many people worry that contesting a will means that other beneficiaries won’t receive an inheritance. While this may be true in some cases, the reality is often more complicated.
Most will disputes are resolved before they ever reach a courtroom. For example, the executors of the estate may offer you an early settlement or you can come to an agreement through mediation.
This approach often provides an acceptable outcome for everyone involved, limiting the impact on the legacies of other beneficiaries. You can therefore rest assured that you still receive adequate provision from a loved one’s estate without causing unnecessary family tension. Legal costs are also lower if you settle.
But what happens when you’re unable to come to an agreement? Pursuing your claim through the legal system may become your only option.
Taking your claim to court
Proceeding to court should be seen as a last resort, as this will likely have the biggest impact on other beneficiaries. Legal fees are generally subtracted from the value of the estate, so a long-running claim could reduce other people’s inheritance.
You should also take your own costs into consideration. Any expenses you accumulate over the course of contesting the will are going to be taken from the final settlement.
However, a court verdict could be the only way to resolve a will dispute when relationships have broken down between loved ones. Judges always strive for impartiality, which should ensure you receive a fair decision based on the available evidence.
A judge also weighs up competing claims of different beneficiaries to the estate. This should give you peace of mind that the financial needs of others will be taken into account.
What factors are considered in a claim?
If you are pursuing a family provision claim, the courts will examine a range of factors to decide what legacy – if any – you should receive. These include:
- The strength of your relationship with the deceased;
- Your present and future financial and health needs;
- Any financial support the deceased provided to you while alive; and
- Your conduct both before and after the deceased passed away.
These are just some of the matters that a court may consider, but for a more comprehensive discussion of how family provision claims are decided, please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Will Dispute Lawyers. We offer a no-win, no-fee service and a free consultation to ensure you don’t have to worry about paying any upfront costs when pursuing a claim.