Dealing with grief over the loss of a loved one is a challenging time. This devastating situation could become even more upsetting and confusing when your parted loved one’s last will is contested.
Contesting or disputing a will happens when all but one or more agree that it is valid. Those who contest the will might claim that they have been left without fair provision or left out of an inheritance.
When a family member disputes a will and claims it is inadequate, it results in a family provision claim. This can also apply to statutory provisions when a testator dies intestate.
Your Right as a Beneficiary
The will’s executor must inform you about any contest or dispute to the will that might affect your entitlement. In Queensland, the eligible person must contest the will within 12 months from the testator’s death. Still, there are cases when the contest was accepted after several years.
If you are a beneficiary, you can participate in the compulsory mediation before a hearing. It’s best to enter the negotiation with an open mind, so understanding where the eligible person’s dispute comes from can help resolve the matter.
The cost of a successful contest is generally taken out of the deceased’s estate. So, if there is a chance the eligible person might win the dispute, it can be more cost-effective to settle the matter out of court.
If taken to court, the eligible person’s education, maintenance or advancement in life are considered. The following are also taken into account:
- The financial circumstances, age and mental and physical disability of all people involved in the will
- The contributions made by the eligible person to the deceased’s welfare or property
- The deceased’s estate
- The eligible person’s conduct and character before and after the death of the testator
- Disproved and discredited disputed wills and false allegations
The Possible Outcomes to a Contested Will
A disputed will can arise from a distant relative making a claim to a deceased’s estate. For instance, the beneficiary might be an only child and a relative claims to have a right to a portion of the estate.
A wills and estates lawyer will aim, whether through forensic methodical approach or otherwise, to disprove and discredit that claim.
Sometimes the situation is also different and a family member has been left out of the will or given a smaller portion of the estate compared to others. This can be a truly unjust situation and a wills and estates lawyer will ensure that you get the inheritance you deserve.
Some eligible persons who have contested a will have been deliberately excluded despite having legal claims. For instance, if you had contributed to the estate but received no payment when it was sold to someone else gives you the right to file for a family provision claim. You have a good chance of securing a fair financial settlement in this case.
When it comes to contested wills, it’s best to get in touch with a wills and estates lawyer who knows the field inside out and knows how to proceed with your case. Whether you are a beneficiary or the eligible person contesting a will, a lawyer can ensure you get the inheritance you deserve.
Bickell & Mackenzie is a well known family-owned law firm within the Redlands area. It specialises in conveyancing for buying and selling houses, commercial businesses and retirement homes, wills and estates administration and family law. If you need a lawyer specialising in wills and estates in Redland Bay, phone our office at (07) 3206 8700.