If you’ve been left out of a Will, or have been unfairly treated in terms of the amount of your inheritance you may be able to make a claim against the estate.
Who can dispute a Will?
In Victoria, some of the people who may be entitled to claim include people who had a relationship with the deceased such as:
- a spouse or domestic partner of the deceased at the time of the deceased’s death;
- a child or stepchild of the deceased;
- a child of the deceased, including an adopted child or stepchild who, at the time of the deceased’s death, was under the age of 18 years, a full-time student aged between 18 and 25 years or under a disability;
- a person who, for a substantial period during the deceased’s life, believed that the deceased was his or her parent and was treated by the deceased as his or her natural child;
- a person who, for a substantial period during the deceased’s life, believed that the deceased was his or her parent and was treated by the deceased as his or her natural child who, at the time of the deceased’s death, was under the age of 18 years, a fulltime student aged between 18 and 25 years or under a disability;
- a former spouse or domestic partner of the deceased, if a property settlement was not reached with the deceased following their separation;
- a registered caring partner of the deceased;
- a grandchild of the deceased;
- a spouse or domestic partner of a child of the deceased, if the child dies within one year of the deceased’s death; and
- a member of the household of which the deceased was, or had been in the past and would have likely been in the near future, also a member
This is a very general guide only so please contact us to discuss your particular circumstances.
Is there a time limit?
Yes, there is. You have only 6 months after the date of the grant of probate of the will or of letters of administration to make a claim. In certain circumstances, we might be able to obtain an extension of the time limit so please contact us to discuss your situation.
What if I don’t believe the Will was valid?
You can challenge a Will if you believe that the will is a forgery or if the person lacked the mental capacity to make a Will. You can also challenge a Will if you believe that undue influence was brought to bear upon the deceased or if there was fraud involved.
How do I make a claim?
First, contact a lawyer, who can assess your claim and discuss the particular circumstances of your claim. If it’s worth continuing we will contact the executors and notify them of your claim. We will then gather evidence, prepare documents and make an offer to the executors. Many claims are settled through negotiation at this stage.
If the matter isn’t resolved then we can lodge documents with the court to initiate proceedings. We can still negotiate and in some cases mediation will be required by the court.
Failing all else, we will proceed to a court hearing wherein the evidence will be presented and the judge will make a decision.
We can help
At every stage of contesting or challenging a Will it’s important to have sound, experienced legal advice. We have the skills to negotiate on your behalf to avoid costly court fees, but if it comes down to court we also have the skills to fight on your behalf.
Contact us to find out more or to arrange a consultation with an experienced estate lawyer in Heidelberg.