For a lot of people, having to contest a will of a deceased loved one can be quite a daunting and stressful task, especially during a time when you should be mourning. Unfortunately, they are oftentimes inevitable, whether it was the attorney’s, a greedy relative’s, or even the testator’s fault. Moreover, contesting a will is a somewhat long and costly process, so you have to make sure that you can handle it before even trying to find an attorney to help you. You also have to make sure that you are eligible to contest, as there are provisions under Australian laws regarding contesting a will.
Who can contest a will?
Not anyone is allowed to contest a will. Typically, there are two types of persons who can contest: persons named in the will, and those who are heirs if ever the will was invalidated. Persons named in the will usually have a much more limited option in contesting a will than those who are natural heirs, although it might depend on the situation. On the other hand, natural heirs, which includes the spouse, children, parents, de facto couple, or in some cases other relatives, such as stepchildren, grandchildren, and former spouses and partners, usually have a higher chance of successfully contesting a will.
What are the grounds for contesting a will?
Being able to successfully contest a will not only depends on the ability of a person to contest, it also takes into considerations the grounds for which a will is contested. The following are some of the most common reasons to be able to contest a will:
Testator’s incapacity. The most common ground for contesting a will, this situation happens if the person who made the will, called the testator, lacks the proper mental capacity to make the will when the will was made. Although, each country has different laws regarding who is considered mentally incapacitated, it usually requires the testator to be able to understand the nature and value of his property, to know who the commonly assigned heirs are according to the law, and to comprehend how he will choose to dispose of his property.
Failure to comply to will and testament signing laws. Some countries require a specific way on how the will shall be signed. It’s not as simple as visiting an estate lawyer’s office and signing it there as there are state provisions requiring witnesses and specific format on how the will is accomplished. This lack of compliance can be a ground for contest.
There was undue influence. If a relative, a caregiver, or a friend influenced the testator’s decision in creating the will in a way that they try to benefit from it and does not reflect the real intention of the testator, the will can be contested. This can either be over-persuading, stressing, or forcing the testator to make the will according to the influencer’s desire.
Fraudulent execution. If the will was executed in a fraudulent way, such as deceiving the testator to sign a will or misleading him with false information that made him change his decision.
Forged will. This occurs when another person, other than the supposed testator, signed the will, thus not reflecting the real testator’s desires.
If you qualify for the above requirements, then you may be able to contest a will. Contesting a will is a tedious process, but there are services that could offer you help.