Take Financial Stress Out of the Grieving Process
A treasured loved one has passed away, but they never got around to updating their Will.
You know that as a result, their estate isn’t being distributed the way they would have wanted. It’s time to intervene. You probably feel hurt, angry and confused – and guilty for feeling that way. Rest assured, all of these feelings are valid and normal.
Will disputes are never pleasant, but we can make them as painless as possible. At Ryan and Ryan Lawyers, we know how emotionally damaging a drawn out dispute can be. Our Will dispute specialists will secure you a quick and satisfying resolution. Grieve properly without financial stress, safe in the knowledge that your loved one’s wishes for their estate have been honoured.
Contesting and Challenging a Will
Important: You only have 12 months following the date of death to contest a Will.
If this period has lapses, contact us to discuss the possibility of an extension.
Challenging a Will involves questioning the integrity of Will itself. You can challenge a Will for the following reasons:
- The Will appears forged or fraudulent
- The deceased was coerced, manipulated or otherwise influenced
- The Will was created while the deceased was mentally unfit or incapacitated
Contesting a Will disputes the fairness of the outcome. You can contest a Will for the following reasons:
The allocation of estate is unfair or disproportionate
You have been unfairly excluded, or the amount left to you is not enough to meet your future needs
Making a Claim Against an Estate or Challenging a Will
After a discussion about the merit of your case, we will advise you whether or not to proceed with a claim.
If you do proceed, we will compile relevant evidence and documentation and then present your claim to the executors. Thankfully many claims are resolved at this stage through a negotiation process. This is by far the best outcome and we have the knowledge and experience to advocate for you.
Mediation is compulsory in these matters. We will represent you and your interests during this necessary step.
Going to Court
If your claim does progress to court, the compiled evidence will be presented to the judge. Our specialist court representatives will then advocate your claim to secure a positive outcome.
Challenging the Will involves proving that the Will should not be upheld due to validity concerns.
Contesting the Will involves proving that the Will should not be upheld due to unfair distribution of the estate.
Depending on your circumstances, you may have legal remedies available to you. Some of the legal avenues to challenge a Will include challenging the validity of the Will or seeking an award on the basis that you unfairly received inadequate or no provision from an estate. To answer this question our deceased estate solicitors will have to meet with you to discuss the circumstances of your claim.
When the deceased party has no recorded Will, this is referred to as “Intestate”.
Intestacy laws are different for each state, but in NSW how a deceased estate is distributed depends on what family members the deceased has left.
Children, spouses, siblings, and parents can all influence how the estate is divided.
The law in this area is complex. It is recommended that you speak to a deceased estate solicitor.
It depends on the parties involved and their willingness to settle outside of Court. Sometimes, when the parties to a dispute cannot reach agreement, Court is inevitable.
We regularly advocate a cost-benefit analysis to make sure that money is not spent chasing an adverse result. Settling a dispute outside of Court often has its advantages in that the parties to the dispute can control the outcome, as opposed to a judge making a decision which is outside of the parties’ control.
Wills do not expire, however problems can arise if you don’t update your Will regularly. For example, you may make a gift to someone who predeceases you or a former spouse, you may gift an asset to someone then sell that asset before your death, or a person may be born after your Will is made and your Will may not leave them any part of your estate.
If the terms of the Will can be carried out, then the Will is valid and binding.
If a Will has not been updated for some time, and certain parties (like children or spouses) feel they have been left inadequate financial provisions, the Will can be contested.
When challenging a Will the length of dispute is determined by a range of factors such as
- Type of dispute (challenge or contest)
- The total number of parties involved
- The status of whether probate has been granted
- How complex the legal issues are
- The amount and legitimacy of any evidence gathered
- The size of the claim by the claimant
- What stage the the claim is resolved at
Generally Will disputes can last anywhere between 6 to 18 months. However, if the dispute requires a Court hearing it will likely take around 2 years before the process is resolved.
It will depend on how the legal costs are classified – private cost or party costs.
Generally if you’re successful in challenging the Will, the costs will be covered by the estate.
If you’re unsuccessful in challenging a Will, the claimant will be required to pay the legal fees.
For expert knowledge and a passion for providing winning outcomes, Ryan + Ryan Lawyers are your premier estate and property law firm. Get in touch today!
Arguing over inheritance can divide families - but things don’t need to be so stressful.
Ryan & Ryan Lawyers will support you through the sensitive process of a will dispute, and ensure a fair and positive resolution.