Just like divorce lawyers Sydney who are well experienced in dealing with legal matters that occurs during separation, will dispute lawyers are most commonly engaged after someone has passed away and the total sum of the assets they left behind needs to be divvied up between their beneficiaries such as their spouse or children. If they had a valid last will and testament, the process should go smoothly as there will be little room for anyone to disrupt the process.
However, this process is often disrupted by litigation carried out by solicitors on behalf of their clients who are challenging the document. Many of the challenges to someone’s final wishes attempt to prove that the deceased was not of sound mind when they wrote the document or they had forgotten to disclaim something by accident.
The following will look at 4 situations where will dispute lawyers are commonly engaged.
The probate process is taking too long to begin
One simple area that will dispute lawyers are often used is when the person responsible for making sure the deceased’s final wishes are met (executor) is slow to begin the probate process. As a general rule, executors are expected to act on the deceased’s final wishes within 12 months of their demise.
If the executor fails to act within this timeframe then beneficiaries will have an argument they can take to the Supreme Court. Will dispute lawyers can help beneficiaries obtain a deadline they can have enforced so that the executor starts the probate process.
Beneficiaries are unable to agree on what will happen to the estate property
Will dispute lawyers are also commonly used when beneficiaries fail to see eye-to-eye on whether or not the family home of the deceased should be sold or kept within the family. A common way this issue is solved is when one party sells their share of the property to the other.
In other situations the last wishes of the deceased state the beneficiaries are able to purchase ownership of the property from the estate, but even if not, will dispute lawyers are able to help reach an agreement.
Beneficiaries make the accusation of undue influence
A controversial area that often requires the expertise of will dispute lawyers is when beneficiaries accuse each other of using undue influence in order to manipulate the deceased. The argument is that beneficiary has used manipulation tactics to get a bigger share of assets than they would have otherwise or to disenfranchise another benefactor.
This issue is highly controversial for obvious reasons; people always suspect undue influence to some degree. This is because bitter family members who may already dislike each other will often see the worse in one another and assume that undue influence is taking place.
If a court finds that undue influence was used, then they will revert to an older copy of the document or will simply divide assets using the rules of intestacy.
Beneficiaries identify problems with the document
A lot of people will create their final wishes using informal means or fail to consult a solicitor when drafting the document. Unless the document is proofread by a solicitor, then it is very likely that someone will be able to bring a legal challenge to it.
This issue can be avoided by making sure you use a solicitor when writing up your final wishes so as to make sure that it’s legally watertight against any potential challenges. While it is possible to fight and win against challenges in court, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Hopefully, the above will give you some added insight into the situations where will dispute lawyers are commonly engaged.