Any person who can show that the person who made the Will had a 'moral duty' to provide for them can challenge a Will by starting a Supreme Court process called 'testator's family maintenance'. Generally the person who wants to make a claim has to be closely related to the person who died.
Contesting a Will is when valued members of the deceased's family feel they were unfairly left out of a Will or not adequately provided for. The contents of a Will can be challenged in Australia by law if there is a good reason.
Can a sibling contest a Will? A sibling cannot contest a Will unless they lived with the deceased and were wholly or partly dependent on them. But they should speak with a lawyer first.
If the matter goes to court, the average cost to contest a will is about $20,000 – $100,000. Most lawyers charge $300 to $850 per hour. The average cost for a family provision claim in NSW that is finalised is about $30,000. But, if you go to court, the cost can be more than $50,000.
Can the executor sell property without all beneficiaries approving? In some cases, the executor can sell the property after probate, if there's been no mention of keeping it in the will. However, because this is a sensitive situation, executors should take care to communicate with the beneficiaries.
Contesting a will in Australia, by contrast, occurs when someone asserts that they have not received adequate provision in the will. To successfully contest a will, a person must demonstrate financial need, and establish that in light of this need, the deceased should have made greater provision for them.
The simple answer is that you can't ever stop someone contesting your will. This is because state and territory legislation across Australia allows 'eligible' people to make a claim against an estate if they can establish that they have not been adequately provided for in the deceased's will.
Contesting a will is time is worthwhile if you believe you are entitled to more than you received. The process can take an emotional toll but it is important to remember that there can be major long-term benefits of contesting a will.
Who can contest a will? Theoretically, anyone can challenge a will, whether that's a sibling, or someone who doesn't appear to benefit on first glance, but may be a residuary beneficiary. However, contesting a will is not something you should consider without good reason.
In New South Wales, the overall success rate of contesting a will is approximately the same as the national average, about 76 %. As mentioned, NSW also has the highest number of family provision claims in the country and is responsible for around 60 % of all contested estates.
Persons above 18 years of age can make a Will, as they possess the testamentary capacity. If a person shows lack of testamentary capacity, a will can be challenged. This means that the testator did not comprehend the consequences of making and signing the Will.
Can an executor of a will take everything? No. An executor of a will cannot take everything unless they are the will's sole beneficiary. An executor is a fiduciary to the estate beneficiaries, not necessarily a beneficiary.
Where the executor has not paid the legacy to the beneficiary within 12 months from the date of death, the beneficiary is entitled to claim interest until the legacy is received.
Wait Six Months (or sometimes longer)
By law the Executor has to hold onto estate assets for six months from the date Probate is granted, and cannot pay out any money to the beneficiaries before this time is up.
The usual rule is that the loser pays the winner's legal costs. This is often called the “costs follow the event” principle. It is in the Civil Procedure Rules at rule 44.2(2).
Costs to defend a contested will
There is a common misconception that the costs of a claim will automatically come out of the estate and this is not necessarily correct. The judge has a discretion and the usual rule follows that the losing party pays the successful party's costs.
The time limit to contest a will in the Australian Capital Territory is six months from the date of probate. The court can only make an exception under the Family Provision Act 1969 for a late Family Provision Claim if it judges that there is sufficient cause.
Sibling disputes over assets in a parent's estate can be avoided by taking certain steps both before and after the parent dies. Strategies parents can implement include expressing their wishes in a will, setting up a trust, using a non-sibling as executor or trustee, and giving gifts during their lifetime.
Disinheriting a child in a will in Australia is possible, but not necessarily straightforward. Australian law gives its citizens the freedom to draw up a will that nominates who their estate will be distributed to upon their death, but are their children necessarily included?
Studies have shown that contesting of Wills in Australia has an average of 74 percent of Family Provision Claims in Australia which are successful. The success rate in Queensland is even higher at 77 percent.
It is possible to contest a will on the basis of a lack of knowledge and approval even if the will appears to be validly executed and the testator had mental capacity. It must be shown that the testator was not aware of the content of the will or that there were suspicious circumstances.
The short answer is yes you can. However, it really is preferable to seek legal advice and bring any claim at the earliest opportunity, since the recoverability of estate assets (in a successful claim) after an estate has already been distributed, can be problematic and lead to increased costs.
When it comes to the process of contesting a will, there is no legal requirement for a solicitor to be instructed. There is absolutely nothing stopping someone from dealing with a will challenge.