Estate disputes are often messy, emotionally jarring, and stressful especially when family members are still dealing with the death of their loved one. An estate is all the assets and properties that the person has left behind as outlined in a will, a legal document that not only lists such assets, but also defines beneficiaries and the executor of will. But what if the will is deemed invalid by one or more members of the family? This is where challenging a will comes into play. Unlike contesting a will, wherein one or more beneficiaries may be “in contest” with others to get a more substantial part of the estate, challenging a will happens when a beneficiary believes that the will must be voided or struck out entirely.

 

Estate Disputes: Advice on Challenging a Will

Estate disputes need not be as stressful, especially when claimants enlist the professional services of estate lawyers and inheritance lawyers to assist with filing the case. Inheritance lawyers are specialists who are well versed in inheritance laws in Australia and can provide sound advice on how to move forward with challenging a will.

 

A will can be challenged if the claimant believes that it is invalid.

Challenging a will is often done when the claimants or beneficiaries have a strong case against a will’s validity. So how do you know if a will is invalid? First of all, the will is invalid in Australia if it was not signed in accordance with the state laws, which require that the will be signed in the presence of at least two witnesses. Another reason for a will’s invalidity is the lack of testamentary capacity of the testator to create a will. Find Law defines testamentary capacity as “the capacity in executing a will to understand the nature and extent of one’s property and how one is disposing of it and to recognize the natural objects of one’s bounty.” This means that the testator must be aware that he or she had created a will and is aware of the effects once it is put into motion. If a will has come by via fraud, forgery, and undue influence, it may also be considered invalid in court. It is important that wills are dated and that older will are destroyed or disposed of properly as to avoid confusion. If a newer will arises and is considered valid, this will be the will that shall be executed.

 

Only eligible persons can challenge a will.

As with contesting a will, only those who have legal standing to challenge a will can do so. Will disputes arise when an individual decides to challenge a will, but before a claim is filed, one must find out if he or she has legal standing to do so. Inheritance lawyers can help determine one’s legal standing, commonly based on the following: if the client is a husband or wife of the deceased at the time of their death, if he or she was living in a facto relationship with the deceased at the time of their death, if he or she is a child of the deceased, if he or she was a former husband or wife of the deceased, or if the individual was wholly or partly dependent on the deceased person, and at any time a member of the same household as the deceased person, if the individual is a grandchild of the deceased who was wholly or partly dependent on them or if the individual had a close personal relationship with the deceased at the time of their death.

 

Estate lawyers can best assist in challenging a will.

Seeking legal counsel from estate lawyers helps ease the burden of estate disputes. Estate lawyers can aid in providing effective solutions to reach a well-deserved settlement. Inheritance lawyers not only provide legal service but also emotional support throughout will disputes. Some firms operate on a “no win, no fee” basis to ensure that a fair settlement is reached. Conversely, such lawyers can also assist in defending a will if the bereaved has encountered a will challenged from a claimant.

 

Challenging a will involves following a strict schedule.

When challenging a will, note that in Australia, the application must be made within six months after the date of grant or probate or three months from the time the claimant gives notice to the estate.

 

Learn how mediation can resolve a will dispute.

Not all will disputes end up in a court case. In fact, mediation is the most common alternative to going to court over an estate dispute. Some benefits to mediation include less legal costs as compared to a court hearing. Mediation also allows for both parties to discuss and engage in a healthy manner that won’t damage relationships. Inheritance lawyers often serve as a mediator in such cases.

 

Whether challenging a will or contesting a will, make sure to consult with inheritance lawyers for sound advice on estate disputes. These lawyers and professionals are not only equipped with knowledge on the local inheritance laws but can also provide the much-needed support during such trying times.