When it comes to contesting or challenging a Will, a person needs to make sure they are represented by a Will dispute lawyer. Contesting and challenging a Will are two completely different things.
When you are left out of a Will or believe the deceased has treated you unfairly in their Will, you can contest it. As a result, you file a claim for family provision.
On the other hand, to challenge a Will is to claim that the Will is invalid. These types of situations typically emerge when the individual who made the Will was suffering from a mental illness or was under influence to modify their Will.
In this article, you’ll be able to understand what a Will dispute lawyer can help you with and some helpful tips on what to enquire from them.
Factors To Consider Before Hiring A Will Dispute Lawyer
Before hiring a Will dispute lawyer, it is important to know people linked to opposing parties like the testator. A testator is a person who makes a valid Will and they must be of sound mind when making one. A testator should also make his or her Will free of duress and compulsion from others.
A court may later void the Will if the testator did not consent to the terms of the Will. Will dispute laws vary by jurisdiction. However, there is normally a time limit for contesting a will for inheritance across the country. You must do so within:
- 12 months of death in New South Wales;
- 9 months in Queensland, and;
- 6 months in Victoria
While some law firms specialise in a variety of topics, the right firm for you will have a Will dispute lawyer or a team dedicated to Wills and probate.
What To Ask A Will Dispute Lawyer?
What’s your experience as a Will dispute lawyer?
Being upfront with your potential Will dispute lawyer can help you in gauging how they can handle your case. Their educational background can be a big advantage as this can back up their credentials and accreditations for handling cases.
Asking how many cases they have handled and what’s the outcome as well can help you see how they were effective in handling Will dispute cases. Their success rate and proven track record can describe a good Will dispute lawyer.
What’s the best way for me to challenge/contest a Will?
Next, you should consult with a Will dispute lawyer to see if contesting the Will’s validity is the best option. If so, you should inquire on what grounds should be used. There are several reasons for contesting the validity of a Will. Whatever grounds you use will depend on your circumstances.
A claim for undue influence can be acceptable if you feel the Will was made under the direction or influence of someone other than the testator. A claim for Lack of Testamentary Capacity may be the best option if you believe the testator’s Will is invalid. You can use this if they were not of sound mind when they made it. For example, if they were suffering from dementia at the time.
You can, of course, challenge a Will based on fraud or forgery. For example, you might assert that:
- A Will-maker was deceived into signing a document;
- That they were unaware of signing a new Will, or;
- That they were misled about the alterations made to the Will.
You can also contest a Will if you suspect a signature was forged. These allegations frequently accompany claims of undue influence and mental incapacity.
The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 provides a remedy if the Will is legal but fails to make appropriate provisions for individuals who were depending on the testator while they were alive. You can seek to the courts for adequate financial assistance from the deceased’s estate through an Inheritance Act claim without having to contest the Will’s validity.
What happens if the dispute is successful?
If a Will is found to be invalid, the testator’s assets are distributed according to the terms of their most recent valid Will. If the testator’s only Will was deemed invalid, the estate will be split according to intestacy regulations.
It’s crucial to figure out what your position will be if the disagreement goes to court because otherwise, you could go to court to have the Will declared invalid, only to discover that you don’t inherit anything from the testator.
If your Will dispute for reasonable financial provision under the Act is successful, the court will determine the appropriate quantity that constitutes reasonable financial provision in your situation.
Information To Gather For Your Will Dispute Lawyer
Your Will dispute lawyer may advise you to gather documents such as letters or medical records connected to the testator as evidence to support your case, depending on the grounds on which you are challenging the Will. Here are a few things you can bring to the table when meeting with your Will dispute lawyer:
- The deceased’s death certificate
- Location of the deceased’s estate
- Your relationship with the deceased
- A copy of the Will
- Details of the executor for the Will
- Information if probate has been granted
- Information on beneficiaries on the Will
Once you’ve presented this needed information to your Will dispute lawyer, you must decide whether or not to contest the Will, and your Will dispute lawyer may advise you to opt for mediation. Going to court takes time and is often costly. Mediation is an alternative to going to court. Your Will dispute lawyer can explain the details, but it is possible to resolve a Will dispute through mediation.
JB Solicitors’ Mediation Services
Disputing a Will can be a stressful process for families. Moreso, dragging a case for too long will also result in even bigger disputes and costs. Unlike other types of legal disputes, trying mediation in contentious probate is not required, although it may be a viable and cost-effective option to avoid going to court.
JB Solicitors’ mediation service entails examining the concerns and negotiating with the defendant in good faith to reach an agreement. Our team of experienced solicitors guides clients in getting the best legal advice with our fixed fees so they can solely focus on settling their Will disputes.
Make an enquiry with JB Solicitors today.