Have you been treated unfairly? You may want to challenge a will

Date: Jan 15, 2014

Did you know that if you believe you've been treated unfairly, you may be entitled to dispute a will?

Many people are not aware this is an option. However, estate disputes are quite common in Australia. Here's what you need to know.

There are many grounds on which you may challenge a will. These include fraud, undue influence, forgery and instances in which an individual lacked the mental capacity to make a will but did so anyway.

A will can be contested on the ground of fraud if and when it can be proved the will-maker was tricked or forced into signing the document.

This is separate from undue influence, which occurs when a person somehow influences the will-maker by pressuring or forcing them to include certain facts and figures in the will.

Another reason a will might be disputed is if a person or persons who should have been provided for in the will - usually dependants, such as spouses and de facto partners, children, grandchildren and (sometimes) ex-spouses - are not bequeathed an adequate portion of the deceased's estate or, indeed, anything at all.

Or, if the will was changed in some way after the will-maker signed it or is unclear in its intentions, you may have grounds to challenge the document.

There is a time limit attached to estate disputes, which means you need to act quickly if and when you decide you have been treated unfairly in a relative's will.

In New South Wales, you must get in touch with an estate lawyer within 12 months of the will-maker's passing away in order to make a valid claim.

In addition to the time limit placed on those looking to challenge a will, there are also rules and regulations about who is allowed to take such an action.

According to the New South Wales Trustee and Guardian, Attorney General and Justice, a will-maker's spouse, children, de facto partner and ex-spouse - to name just a few - are eligible to challenge a will, provided they have grounds for doing so.

The full list of who can dispute a will is available in the Succession Act 2006. If you want to know more about this sometimes complex area of the law, you may want to get in touch with one of Craddock Murray Neumann's estate lawyers today!