When individuals consider contesting the will of a deceased relative, there are a number of different grounds that can be used to pursue this legal action. However, many individuals may be unaware of the different ways a will can be disputed.
To help, here are the three main ways that an estate dispute can begin.
Validity and construction of a will
Sometimes there are concerns about the validity of a will, often stemming from concerns around undue influence that the deceased may have been under or the capacity of the deceased
At the same time, the construction of a will can also lead to an estate dispute. Poorly worded wills or documents that don't follow the correct processes are often lead to estate disputes as relatives seek clarity on how possessions should be distributed.
Alongside the contents of a will itself, individuals can also choose to contest the behaviour of the executor of the estate. This can occur if the contents of the will have not been distributed properly or if there are excessive delays in the process.
In this situation, the role of executor will often be reassigned to another individual, or one of the beneficiaries may take over the administration of the estate.
Family provision claims
Among the most common claims individuals will make is for a family provision claim – where a person claims for provision or further provision from estate than what they are entitled to by law.
The range of people who can apply for this is quite limited, allowing only for:
- family members including spouses and de facto partners;
- former spouses
- grandchildren who were dependant on the deceased
- people who were dependant on the deceased and a member of their household from time to time.
In addition to proving they fall in one of the above four categories the claimant must also prove:
- the current allowance contained within the estate is insufficient; and
- the deceased had a duty to provide for their ongoing maintenance; and
- they have a financial need
In some cases a person might challenge the validity of a will, the administration of the estate and make a claim for family provision.
No matter which option you choose to pursue, there are time limits that apply to contesting a will.
Anyone considering this course of action will need to take legal action quickly for their estate dispute to have the best chance of success.
If you would like more information on the grounds you can use to contest a will, it is important to contact a wills and estates lawyer. They will be able to provide advice that is specific to your situation.