Can I Contest A Will Without A Lawyer?

The death of a loved one is a difficult time for families, particularly when there is a will and an estate to be divided. The situation can become even more difficult if the will that has been left does not provide for family members in the way they had expected it to. If a family member, or other individual who had a close relationship to the deceased, feels like they have been unfairly left out of the will, or inadequately provided for, they may decide to contest the will.

This is called an estate dispute, which occurs when someone perceives an inequity of distribution of assets among beneficiaries or believes he or she is wrongfully absent from the will. Contesting a will is complex and there are certain legal processes that you have to adhere to. As such, it is not recommended that you proceed with any claim without seeking legal advice.

If you have found yourself in this position and don’t know where to go next, the first step is to contact an estate lawyer.

3 Ways an Estate Lawyer Can Help You Contest a Will

Determine If You Are Eligible To Contest A Will

Before contesting a will, you must be verified as a valid claimant against the estate of the deceased. Those who can make a claim against the deceased estate include the wife, husband, or defacto partner of the deceased and in some cases, the ex-wife, ex-husband, or ex-partner of the deceased. In addition, the child, step-child, adopted child, or grandchild of the deceased can contest the will. In some circumstances, the brother or sister of the deceased, a dependent of the deceased, or a personal carer or creditor of the deceased may also be eligible.

Will contest claims are complex and consulting an estate lawyer puts you in the best position to determine whether or not you’re are eligible to make a claim against the deceased’s will. Dealing with a death in the family is a truly difficult time and you may not be in the best emotional state to make sound decisions, which is why it’s best to consult an estate lawyer who can efficiently determine if you are entitled to contest a will and assess your success rating, given your circumstances.

Administer An Estate Dispute Appraisal To Determine The Merit Of Your Claim

Before heading into an estate dispute, it’s important to know what to expect. Depending on your circumstances and the size of the estate, pursuing a claim may not be the best course of action. By contacting an estate lawyer, you will be able to discuss the specifics of your situation. The estate lawyer will provide an appraisal to determine the merit of your claim. During the appraisal, they will ask questions to gain a clearer understanding of your circumstances and what you stand to gain out of the estate dispute if it is valid and you decide to pursue it. Many law firms, like Hentys, will offer this appraisal obligation-free and at no cost to you.

Determine What Kind of Claim is Most Appropriate for You

There are a number of different kinds of claims that you can lodge against an estate. The most relevant for you will depend on your specific circumstances. For example, if you believe that you were excluded from a will, or unfairly provided for as a result of the testator being under pressure, an estate lawyer can help you gather evidence for an undue influence claim so that you can contest the will on these grounds.

Another common type of claim is a Family Provision Claim, which is a formal application to the Supreme Court requesting for a share of the testator’s estate. You may file a Family Provision Claim if you are eligible and believe that you have not been adequately provided for in the will, or have been excluded completely. The Family Provision Claim must be filed within 6 months of probate being administered, so it’s important to act quickly. An estate lawyer can help you in filing a Family Provision Claim.

These are just the initial stages of a will contest. If you decide to lodge your claim, your lawyer will be with you throughout the entire process to ensure that you meet the imposed deadlines for any documentation, affidavit, or claim, assist in ensuring that the Probate has been granted, and representing you at a court appointed mediation to try to resolve the dispute without the need for Going to Court. Your lawyer will provide you with the compassionate support and sound legal advice that you need during this difficult time, all the while being  committed to achieving a settlement that will benefit you.

For more information on contesting a will, get in touch with the team at Hentys Lawyers.