The notion of a contested will looms large in our popular consciousness. We find cases of contested wills popping up throughout media. What’s more, this isn’t a recent phenomenon: Charles Dickens based the plot of Bleak House around a contested will, with the infamous and ultimately futile case of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce becoming both literary and legal shorthand for an out of control and ultimately fruitless suit. The last thing anyone wants when it comes to a will is a series of Dickensian twists and turns. A will should ideally serve as a source of clarity and calm when such virtues are most needed. Laying out plans for the future with that same degree of clarity is extremely important. That said, in the event of a contested will, here are a few things to consider in terms of your legal recourse.
The Provisions for Contesting Wills
To begin with, it should be noted that there are certain conditions to be considered when it comes to whether or not a will can be contested. Whether or not a case regarding a contested will is to be heard will likely depend on its meeting these criteria. For example, if the situation surrounding the will’s creation or enactment is deemed “grossly unfair,” you may well have a case for contesting the will. The degree of dependency upon the deceased may likewise be considered. If you or a loved one were considerably dependent upon the deceased and are left out of a will, you might have recourse for contesting the will despite wishes or obligations on the part of the deceased being to the contrary. Finally, if the deceased is deemed to have not been in a properly fit mental state of mind when the will was created, it may be contested on those grounds.
All this and more may be considered when it comes to contesting a will.
A Multitude of Scenarios
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to the subject of contesting wills is that each territory within Australia has its own rules and provisions. As such, legal definitions and boundaries are likely to vary from place to place, and case to case. Furthermore, law which applies for one relation (a close friend) may or may not apply to another (a parent, spouse, or other family member.) You will want to speak with an attorney trained in dealing with contested wills to receive a personalised account as to what the specific nature of the law is in your area and what, if any, legal recourse you may have with respect to the deceased’s will.
Furthermore, the specifics of your relationship with the deceased may have a bearing on a legal decision as to whether or not you may contest a will. For example, courts are sometimes less inclined to disentitle a person with respect to a will in the wake of a breach between the parties should it be a deceased family member, such as a parent, who is the party responsible for the breach.
Get the representation you need when it comes time to contest a will.