Those who have experienced the passing of a loved one will understand the difficult time that often ensues. Emotions are often further amplified when it comes to administering the deceased’s estate, with the potential for certain individuals to believe they’re entitled to a greater share of the assets in question.
When contesting a will, claimants lodge a case against the estate on the grounds that it is unfair. This may be because they’re an eligible person who was excluded from mention, or that they didn’t receive the share of the estate that they see fit. A testator’s will can also be challenged if it’s believed that they were under undue influence, lacked testamentary capacity, or were coerced when writing and validating their final will.
It’s typically suggested that those involved in a will dispute, whether they’re contesting or defending the estate, engage the professional assistance of an estate lawyer. Case proceedings can be complex, thus, someone who is unfamiliar with cases of this nature will likely struggle to make a successful claim – especially if the opposing lawyer is incredibly experienced.
Your estate lawyer will provide you with expert advice and guidance at each stage of your estate dispute, ensuring that you are well informed and adequately prepared to put your best foot forward. They’re experience in the field and, thus, have the experience, knowledge and expertise to help you achieve a fair outcome.
So, while it is possible to contest a will without a lawyer, unless you’re an estate professional, such action is generally discouraged. That being said, even if you’re an estate lawyer or have been one in the past, getting assistance from an independent party can give you a fresh perspective on your case. The individual isn’t emotionally involved in your case and, because of this, may present different ideas from the view of an external entity.
If you intend to contest, challenge or defend a will, getting in touch with an estate lawyer is a great first step.
How an Estate Lawyer Can Assist You During a Will Dispute
There are various ways your estate lawyer can assist you during each stage of your estate dispute. In the following, we’re looking into the guidance they will likely provide prior to mediation or court proceedings.
An Estate Lawyer Can Determine Your Eligibility
Before pursuing your case, it’s important to determine whether or not you’re eligible to make a claim against the estate in question. Only individuals who are found to be an eligible person as per relevant Victoria legislation have the opportunity to make a valid claim if they so wish to do so.
To be considered an eligible person, an individual must be:
- The wife, husband, or de facto partner of the deceased;
- The ex-wife, ex-husband, or ex-partner of the testator;
- The deceased’s biological child;
- A step-child, adopted child or grandchild of the deceased;
- The testator’s brother or sister;
- An individual who was dependent on the deceased’s support;
- In some cases, the deceased’s personal carer or creditor may be eligible as well.
Will contest claims can be particularly complex so, if you’re unsure whether you’re eligible to contest or challenge a certain individuals’ will, it’s suggested that you consult an estate lawyer. From the time probate is granted, you only have six months to contest the deceased’s will. If you think you might have a viable claim, the best time to speak with an estate professional and establish your eligibly is now.
Having an Estate Lawyer Establish the Merit of Your Claim
By speaking with an estate professional, you can weigh up the different components of your specific circumstances. They’ve most probably worked with many individuals in situations just like yours and, thus, can help you determine the likelihood of your claims being successful. In order to do this, your estate lawyer will complete an appraisal.
When executing an appraisal, the estate professional will endeavour to enhance their overall understanding of your situation, while also making an educated estimation of the likely outcome.
Determining Which Claim is Appropriate With Your Estate Lawyer
There are various claims that you may decide to lodge against an estate and, by weighing up the specific characteristics of your case, your estate lawyer can help you determine which will be the most appropriate for you.
If you’re involved in a will dispute, it’s essential that you give yourself the best possible chance of achieving a fair outcome. Whether you’re challenging a will, contesting a will or defending a will, contacting an estate professional is the first step towards getting what you’re entitled to.