If a Will or the laws of intestacy do not make adequate provision for certain family members, they may be open to challenge.
Certain family members who have been left without adequate provision from an estate may be able to challenge a Will or the laws of intestacy. Strict time limits apply, so seek advice as early as possible.
The Court will consider all the circumstances of the case to determine whether the Will or the laws of intestacy make adequate provision for the proper maintenance, support, education or advancement in life of the applicant. If the Court finds that an adequate provision has not been made for the applicant, it will effectively re-write the Will so that it reflects what a wise and just testator would have done.
You should also obtain legal advice if:
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What to bring to the consultation:
- your photo identification;
- a copy of the Will;
- a statement of the assets and liabilities of the estate, if available.
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You may be able to challenge a Will if you have one of the following relationships with the testator:
- married or de facto partner immediately before the testator’s death;
- a former spouse or former de facto partner if you received or were entitled to receive maintenance from the testator;
- a child;
- a grandchild or step-child (in certain circumstances); and
- a parent or step-parent.
The Court will first consider whether the testator has made an adequate provision for you in your particular circumstances. This includes consideration of:
- your financial position, level of education and age;
- the provision made for you in the Will (if any);
- the relationship the testator had with you and the other beneficiaries;
- the value and nature of the estate;
- any contribution you have made to the testator’s assets;
- the needs of other family members; and
- any conduct that you have engaged in that may disentitle you to a share of the estate.
If the Court finds that an adequate provision has not been made for you, it will effectively re-write the Will so that it reflects what a wise and just testator would have done.
If you intend to challenge a Will, time is of the essence. You must apply within 6 months from the date of any grant of Probate or Letters of Administration (although the Court has a discretion to extend the deadline).
A beneficiary of a challenged Will does not need to actively participate in the proceedings. However, if the Court upholds the challenge, the amount you will receive under the Will may be reduced. For this reason, you may want to present your financial and personal circumstances to the Court to persuade it not to reduce your entitlement.
As an executor, you will need to be actively involved in the court proceedings. Your role is two-fold: to provide information regarding the value and nature of the estate and to defend the existing Will. In most cases, an executor will be entitled to have their legal costs paid from the estate, irrespective of the outcome of the proceedings.
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