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December 13, 2019
Law

Contesting a Will? What You Need To Know

People can’t contest a will just because they feel like it. There has to be a reason and valid grounds to challenge the contents of a person’s will.

So what are the legal grounds to contest a will? Have you recently lost a loved one or someone close to you, but have some doubts regarding the will and the division of the person’s estate?

Let’s take a look at some scenarios where contesting wills is possible and gain a better understanding of how it works.

The Deceased Was Not of Sound Mind

If the will was created and signed by the deceased when they were suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s, or in some other way mentally incapacitated at the time, then this leaves the contents of that will open to being challenged.

If someone signs a will when they are generally in a state of mind that’s not coherent, where they definitely didn’t have the mental faculties to make valid decisions, then the validity of such a will is questionable and open to discussion.

By law the signatory of a will must be of sound mound at the time of signing the document, whether the will was created using a DIY will kit, or through a law firm.

The Contents of the Will Are Deemed Majorly Unfair

An example might be a family member who spent years taking care of the deceased during their last days, only to discover that after the person has passed, they haven’t been catered for in the will at all, or only to a very minor degree.

A carer in this position might consider that to be grossly unfair and choose to contest the will’s stipulations and contents.

Maybe this family member was promised to be taken care of by the deceased, but this wasn’t included in the actual will itself.

Another situation could be where there are a number of children who all expected equal shares of the estate, but in the will one is favoured more than the others.

Possible Forgery Is Suspected

This scenario may not be as common as some other reasons for contesting a will, but it does happen from time to time. After all, when money is involved, anything’s possible.

Forgery can involve someone other than the deceased having signed off on the will, as well as changing the contents of the will without the deceased’s knowledge or consent to do so.

The person performing the forgery could be a present or past spouse, but really anyone who has something to gain from the will and the estate.

Forgery is not always easy to prove, but if you do suspect it has taken place, then you’ll certainly want to put your hand up and challenge the will’s validity.

A Dependent Is Left Financially Compromised and In a Precarious Position

Anyone who was dependent on the deceased financially before their passing is likely expecting that financial support to continue after their passing, at least for a time.

When the will is read, but your discover you haven’t been taken care of financially, potentially leaving you in major financial hardship, then you have a right to contest the will and seek fair and reasonable financial compensation.

The laws vary from state to state in Australia on exactly who is eligible to contest on these grounds, so you would have to check your local laws first before embarking on a challenge.

Do You Suspect the Deceased Was Unduly Influenced Or Coerced?

This could happen when a spouse or partner entered their life in recent times, perhaps someone who had their own best interests in mind other than those of the deceased. It could even be a business partner rather than a relationship on a personal level.

Even if the deceased was of sound mind at the time, people can be manipulated by those close to them into changing the contents of a will. Possibly they didn’t even realise they were being coerced, but were tricked into believing something that wasn’t true and therefore made changes.

If you feel you have fair grounds for contesting a will, then you’ll want to speak with a lawyer who specialises in this field. Only then will you know for certain whether your claims are valid and worth pursuing.

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