The death of a loved one often requires a redistribution of assets based on how it was specified in his or her last will and testament. The will is a legal document that outlines the deceased (or testator’s) last wishes with regards to his or her estate. It also names the Executor of Will, the individual responsible for ensuring that the estate is administered accordingly and the beneficiaries, the individuals who are set to receive parts of the estate. Unfortunately, not all wills are administered in peace. Sometimes, they encounter will disputes. Oftentimes, individuals who believe that they were not properly provided for in a will decide to contest the will. This is often done with the assistance of estate lawyers who provide counsel on the steps required when contesting a will.
Tips for Those Interested in Contesting a Will
What exactly does it mean to contest a will? Who are eligible to contest a will? What are the grounds for contesting a will? These are all valid questions that inheritance lawyers are ready to answer when those who are interested in contesting a will enlist their help. To give a brief overview on what it takes to contest a will, here are five tips on will disputes and how estate lawyers can aid throughout the process.
When contesting a will, one must first determine his or her legal standing.
With the help of estate lawyers, one can determine his or her eligibility to contest a will. Contesting a will requires that the contender is first and foremost eligible and has legal standing. In Australia, one has eligibility to contest a will if he or she is a surviving husband or wife of the deceased, a surviving domestic partner or same sex partner, a child of the deceased (and in some cases, step-children and grandchildren), an individual who was dependent on the deceased or an individual who the deceased was dependent on.
The grounds for contesting a will must be valid.
When contesting a will, there are several grounds that are accepted as valid in the court of law. According to the FT Times, these include lack of due execution, lack mental capacity, lack of knowledge and approval, undue influence, and forgery. A will is often contested when the contender believes that the will is invalid under these grounds. Lack of due execution refers to the validity of the will, which relies on three factors: the will must be in writing and signed by the testator, with his intention to give effect to such will, and must be signed in the presence of at least two or more witnesses. Lack of mental capacity refers to the event in which the testator is not capable of making a will due to old age, illnesses, and other medical reasons. Lack of knowledge and approval refers to the testator’s awareness of the contents of the will before it is signed off. Undue influence refers to the testator being subjected to an undue influence by another, possibly a beneficiary or relative, or anyone with an interest in his or her estate. Lastly, forgery is when the will is found to be been falsified by other parties.
There is a time limit for contesting a will.
Those who are interested in contesting a will must know that in Melbourne, they only have up to six months from the date of the grant of Probate has been made to file a claim. Will disputes are often facilitated by inheritance lawyers who are in the best position to guide clients throughout the process, to ensure that deadlines are met and requirements are submitted on time.
Contesting a will shall incur costs.
When one thinks of estate lawyers and legal counsel, one of the things that first comes to mind is worrisome, immense costs. However, these can be avoided if one knows how to choose the right inheritance lawyer to assist in contesting a will. Some estate lawyers operate on a “no win, no fee” basis to ensure results that are truly beneficial to their client. Early in the process, through interviews and information gathering, these lawyers will provide an initial estimate of legal costs, of course given that the claim is indeed valid.
Find out what a Family Provision Claim is.
A Family Provision Claim is launched when an individual is contesting a will on the grounds that he or she has been unfairly left out of a will or has been inadequately provided for in the will. A Family Provision Claim may be made by an eligible person, which is often either the spouse or domestic partner of the testator during his or her time of death, a child of the deceased (whether adult or under legal age), a former spouse or former domestic partner of the deceased, a grandchild, a registered caring partner, a spouse or domestic partner of a child of the deceased where that child has died within one year of the deceased’s death, or an individual who was or had been a member of the deceased’s household.
Note that challenging a will and contesting a will are two very different terms. Defending a will is done by the Executor of Will when the will contest has been found to be valid. Throughout these processes involved in will disputes, inheritance lawyers will be able to provide clients with sound legal advice and guidance on how to proceed with each step and the associated requirements involved.