Contested Estates

Contested Estates Advice

It is always tragic and upsetting to lose a loved one, but if you had a very close relationship with them and an important role in their life, and you find that you have been left out of their Will or treated unfairly, the experience can be overwhelming. For compassionate advice and assistance in this situation, call Mahony Family Lawyers today on 02 9018 9408 for an appointment in the Sydney CBD, Parramatta or Penrith.

It is legally possible to challenge a Will if you think it was influenced in the wrong way.

It can also be devastating to be in a situation where everything seems right in a Will, but a family member or another person is still motivated to challenge it.

In either case, strong and experienced legal advice and representation, in the field of Family Law, will be essential to make your case clear and to seek the best result possible. At Mahony Family Lawyers, we take an understanding approach to every case we handle, and can assist you to challenge a Will, or defend a Will from a challenge, no matter what your family situation.

Undue influence

In any situation involving a challenge to a Will, there needs to be proof of undue influence. This means that when the person who has passed away was writing their Will, they were influenced by another person to offer them special treatment, while disadvantaging other people in the Will. Undue influence can take many forms, but could include threats, blackmail or subtler persuasion (such as bribes or favours). Sometimes, an illness (for example, mental illness) might also affect the way a person writes their Will: their judgement may not have been clear or logical.

To challenge a Will, or to defend a Will against a challenge, the first facts that need to be clear are that the Will is genuine and legal (scroll up to read about what makes a Will legal and valid). Wills that have been changed or corrected after they are signed are not legal. If a Will is still clearly legal, then proving undue influence becomes similar to a criminal case: clear and strong evidence needs to be shown to the Supreme Court of NSW that a pattern of influence did take place.

Who can challenge a Will?

If there is suspicion that a Will was unduly influenced, then a challenge can be made by various family members and relations of the person who has died: their widow, widower or De Facto partner, or their former wife, former husband or ex-De Facto partner, from earlier relationships (De Facto partners include same-sex partners); their children; their grandchildren; other people dependent on their care; anyone who was in a close relationship with them at the time of their death (for example, a caregiver).

Mediation or court in challenging a Will?

Even though challenging a Will can be like a criminal case, involving evidence, it is still first and foremost a Family Law matter. This means that it has to begin with mediation and negotiation, before going to court. Experienced and understanding legal representation will be essential to reach the best agreement possible, in your family situation. If a challenge does have to proceed to court, then once again strong legal argument will be necessary to achieve the best results.

Legal advice from Mahony Family Lawyers on Challenging a Will

At Mahony Family Lawyers we not only know how the details of the law relate to your case, whichever side of a Will-challenge you are on. We also understand what an emotional and distressing experience a challenge can be, on top of the death of someone close to you. Our staff includes an Accredited Specialist in Family Law, Director Shanna Mahony, and we are respected across the Sydney legal profession for our willingness to work as hard and for as long as it takes to get the fairest results for our clients.

 

For advice and assistance on any aspect of challenging a Will, call Mahony Family Lawyers today on (02) 9018 9408 or send us an email to make an appointment in any of our three offices, located in Parramatta, Penrith or the Sydney CBD.