Challenging a Will: Making a Claim on an Estate

Challenging a Will: Making a Claim on an Estate

Left out of a will? Been disinherited? If there are legitimate reasons for challenging the will, there are a number of approaches that could be taken in an effort to achieve a different outcome to that specified in the will.

There are all sorts of reasons why you might need to bring a claim against a deceased estate. For example, maybe:

  • your spouse didn’t leave you with enough funds (not uncommon where there are blended families and provision is made in the will for children from earlier relationships, serving to reduce the available provision for the surviving spouse);
  • you are an adult child whose parent left everything to their current spouse, leaving you with no inheritance;
  • you were once estranged from your parent but later reconciled but your parent failed to update their last will and testament before they died;
  • a sibling was exerting influence or pressure on your parent to favour them and leave you out of the will;
  • your parent lacked testamentary capacity when they made the will;
  • your parent misunderstood your personal circumstances and they thought you were wealthy enough that you had no need for an inheritance;
  • you were financially dependant on a family member and they have left everything to other family members or a charity; or
  • you were promised that you would be looked after in someone’s will in exchange for undertaking a service or assisting someone.

Disputes over wills and estates are becoming increasingly common. In part that is attributable to the fact that there are more blended families these days – people are living longer and so have more relationships. Further, there’s generally more wealth being created (with increasing property values and due to the longer lives people are living) which translates to significant estates.

If you have been unfairly left out of a will, we can assist you. We can help you in making a family provision claim in ACT or NSW estate matters. The laws that apply in each jurisdiction differ, however, we have expertise in both.

A family provision claim is an application to the Supreme Court for a share, or a larger share, of the estate of a deceased person. A family provision claim can only be made by eligible people. We can advise you as to your eligibility and act on your behalf to make a claim against an estate. Similarly, if you are an executor, and a claim has been made against the estate that you are administering, we can advise you and assist you in defending such claim.

Most matters will not proceed to a final court hearing. The majority of matters settle either at mediation or through negotiations between the parties. Contesting a will is a complex area. Whatever your need might be in this specialised area of the law, we can help you by giving you timely, practical advice and excellent representation. We recommend you seek advice quickly as time limits do apply in making claims against estates.