A will is an invaluable document, and most responsible people consider having a will before they die a must. However, what happens if your will is contested for one reason or another, or what if you want to contest a will yourself? Even the most clearly laid-out and easy-to-understand will can cause possible confusion, and certain people also want to contest a will for personal reasons.
Fortunately, there are some ground rules when it comes to contesting a will, and these rules make the entire process a little easier to understand and follow. By law, people can leave their property and other belongings to anyone they wish, so in reality it is difficult to contest a will successfully. Therefore, if you are a family member dependent who decides to leave their belongings to a third party – such as, an organisation or a non-relative – there are certain avenues you can take to increase the odds of receiving the results you deserve in the end.
A Good Attorney is a Must
When you wish to contest someone’s will, experts always recommend that you hire a competent lawyer, because they can help you learn the ins and outs of the law so that you know what to expect. When it comes to determining who can contest a will in NSW, the law essentially allows only certain people to do this, including:
- The spouse of the deceased or a life partner
- The child of the deceased, provided there was a domestic relationship with the deceased
- A former spouse of the deceased
- A grandchild of the deceased, or someone else who was at least partially dependent on the deceased
If you are a long-lost or estranged relative of the deceased, chances are you will not have the ability to contest that person’s will. However, if you are a direct descendant of the deceased, you probably have a shot.
Of course, despite your eligibility to contest someone’s will, you are not guaranteed success. You must first show the court that you have a valid reason for trying to obtain part of the deceased’s estate. Most of the time the process involves people who feel the deceased should have provided for them financially but did not. Although there are no guarantees, showing valid reasons can very well enable you to get part of a loved one’s estate.
After the Basics
Once you have determined that you can, in fact, contest someone’s will, you likely only have a certain length of time to do so. For example, in NSW, you have until 12 months after the person’s death to contest a will. Again, working with a professional lawyer is your best bet, because this is the only way you will succeed in the end.
A lawyer can help you through the often complex legal maze that may seem to resist your efforts at some point, and though legal situations never guarantee success, your chances of a positive outcome are greatly increased with an experienced lawyer by your side.