Contesting a Will
While a comprehensive estate plan will allow you to rest easy in the knowledge that your affairs will be appropriately looked after, debts paid and your beneficiaries receive what you want them to, unfortunately it is not always the end of the story and situations sometimes arise where we see people contesting a will.
Estate disputes and claims over deceased estates by relatives and others are unfortunately on the rise. In a society that is becoming more and more complex, involving blended families, multiple families, cultural aspects, more dependent grandchildren and the like, often the best laid plans of mice and men do go astray and if they do, the Estate Planning and Litigation Teams at Aitken Lawyers are well placed to assist you.
The most common areas of disputation that our clients have experienced over the many years we have been providing services in this area are:
- Contested applications for Probate/Letters of Administration and applications to remove executors; and
- Claims for provision from deceased estates by “eligible persons”.
The classes of people contesting a will is broad and potentially, broadening. Eligible people are those people who are entitled to make a claim against an estate for provision if they feel that they have been left out of a will or have not been adequately provided for under a will. They include spouses, ex-spouses, de-facto spouses, children, step-children, members of your household who at some time were dependent upon the deceased, or those living in a close personal relationship with the deceased at the time of the deceased’s death.
These two areas of disputes are process driven with many technical aspects, but it is the nuances or characteristics of each particular family dispute and the parties’ relative positions that could mean the difference between success or failure.
For executors, a claim made against the estate by an “eligible person” for provision can create significant issues and delays, and will often tie up the due and proper administration of the estate until the claims are resolved, affecting innocent beneficiaries who are desperately in need of money or assets bequeathed to them.
Thankfully this jurisdiction has a compulsory mediation process and it is here that often most of these disputes are resolved. With a combined experience of in excess of 50 years, the dispute resolution team at Aitken Lawyers has the knowledge and the skills to represent you and negotiate a settlement on behalf of the estate at mediation.
While predominantly acting for executors responding to claims against the estate, Aitken Lawyers has also acted on numerous occasions for claimants against estates, seeking to address inadequate provision made for them, contesting a will, applications for Probate or Letters of Administration.
If you require any assistance or for further information in relation to contesting a will, please do not hesitate to contact our Head of Litigation, Walter MacCallum on 02 8987 0000.