Dealing with a will dispute while at the same time processing the passing of a loved one can be overwhelming, to say the least. That’s why it’s important to work with professionals who can guide you through the entire process, from start to finish.
This article is a great resource and a good place to start when it comes to will dispute cases. You’ll learn about the basics of how to file a will dispute, and what to expect.
Let’s get started.
What is a will dispute?
Technically, a will contest is a formal objection against the validity of a will and falls under the category of family law. Someone brings a final will contention to the court on the grounds that the will doesn’t reflect the actual intent of the person who created the will. Keep in mind that you can both contest if the will seems invalid and if you feel like you haven’t been properly provided for.
The truth is that every case of will contesting has personal connections and ties. These situations can be tricky and difficult on families because the deceased person’s death is hard, to begin with.
A will might be contested if someone feels like they have been left out of someone’s will unfairly. It may also happen if the contestor feels like they received a small portion of the estate but deserve more.
Many contest if the language used in the document is vague and unspecific. Ambiguity is one of the main reasons that people bring forward an issue to the courts.
How to file a claim
The process of contesting a will varies depending on the case, but there is a general path that a will contest could take. Let’s break it down:
- Inform the executor of the estate that you intend to make a claim.
- Begin to gather evidence for the court with your solicitor.
- Settle the matter out of court with dispute resolution or bring the case to court.
The court proceedings can last longer and may require additional evidence. The process can be confusing and difficult in a time that is already trying for a family that has lost someone recently.
Take note that when you win a claim, the state generally pays for court costs. This means that there is not much risk to dispute a will. If you still aren’t sure whether or not this is the right move for you, reach out to GMPLaw for a free consultation.
Time limits of contesting a will
Keep in mind that there are time limits associated with the will contest process and estate planning. Each state has its own time requirements. In New South Wales, a claim must be brought to court within 12 months. On the other hand, in Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory, the limit to dispute a claim is only 6 months.
Who can dispute a will?
Not everyone is able to contest a will, so you must be able to prove that you are eligible to do so.
What qualifies as an eligible person varies depending on which state the court proceedings are occurring in. In most states, someone can make a family provision claim if they have certain connections to the person who has passed away. Here are some examples:
- The wife or husband of the deceased.
- A domestic partner of the deceased.
- A biological or adopted child of the deceased.
- A dependent grandchild of the deceased.
- A person who was wholly or partly dependent on the deceased.
- A person who was living with and had a close personal relationship with the deceased.
- A person who contributed to increasing the value of the deceased estate.
- Someone who was made promises about an inheritance
An eligible person must also prove that they have a need for the provision and that the deceased would have left more in the contested will because of this financial need. This can be proven in many different ways, but it helps if the will has vague wording that doesn’t explicitly leave the contesting person out of the document.
Examples of will disputation cases
Gerard Malouf & Partners have represented people on both sides of the will contest process, including the beneficiary. Sometimes, reading about examples can help clear up the process for someone who has never been through it.
Here are some real cases that Gerard Malouf & Partners have worked on.
In June 2020, Gerard Malouf & Partners worked with the children of a recently deceased man. We were able to help them get $50,000 in payouts from his estate due to the will contest. Our lawyers were able to prove that the deceased man had a real obligation to provide for his children that was not fulfilled in the will.
In another example from March 2020, our lawyers were able to get a $70,000 settlement for our client from the estate of her father who passed without including her correctly in the will. As is often the case in a will dispute, the daughter and the deceased person had a difficult relationship, but our team was able to use letters and other correspondence to prove that the will was unjust.
Why you should seek legal help
Working with legal representatives and seeking expert advice and advice can make a huge difference in any court case, but especially when it comes to handling a will dispute. The process can be confusing, and the legal system is complicated for someone who is not a professional.
Working with qualified estate dispute lawyers can help you ensure you don’t miss deadlines and that you collect the right evidence to support your claims properly. A personal loss is enough to deal with, and a legal professional can take the reins of the legal system.
Check out these will dispute frequently asked questions for more information about the process.
Gerard Malouf & Partners have worked with a variety of cases and we have plenty of experience in property law as well as the family provision law that makes all the difference. We have a no-win, no-fee case policy which means that if you don’t get an inheritance, you won’t have to pay the legal cost to our firm.
Gerard Malouf & Partners has a dedicated client care service team to ensure that you are kept up-to-date at all stages and you receive the triple C: Compassion, Commitment and Competence from all our staff.
Reach out to our team to get started today!