The 8 Most Common Cases Will Dispute Lawyers Deal With
Posted On March 7, 2019
From the claim that the testator was mentally unsound to the claim that they were bribed, will dispute lawyers are experienced at handling a range of different legal cases. Here are the most common claims:
The most common complaint comes from individuals who are dissatisfied with the outcome of the document, whether due to a lack of any inheritance or it being a smaller amount than they were expecting. Typically, an objection cannot be made based on this alone. In most cases, a letter explaining the reasons for the testator’s choices is to be provided from the solicitor that helped draft the document, in order to help give the individual closure.
Will dispute lawyers typically find the quality of the documents to be quite high, and so this claim is not often seen in practice. However, on the rare occasion that the original document does contain an error, it may be able to be amended by the court. This is purely in order to better understand the aims of the testator.
In the event that the testator did not properly execute or sign the document, it may be decided that the document is invalid. This usually applies to those who have created their documents themselves.
Testator was unduly influenced
Occasionally, a person linked to the testator may force them against their wishes to draft the document in a certain way in order to obtain a desired outcome (normally one that financially benefits them in some way), or may gently ‘steer’ them towards doing so over time. This claim can be challenging to prove as the testator is no longer present, though if there is enough evidence it may be successful.
Testator was mentally unfit
Will dispute lawyers often get clients who claim that the testator was mentally unsound in the making of the document. This claim is becoming more common due to the increasing life span of Australians – as people get older, there is a higher chance of them experiencing conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, which can hinder their ability to make reasoned decisions.
Poor discretion by trustees
Occasionally, a testator may establish a trust arrangement in which individuals are assigned as trustees. Trustees are responsible for taking care of the deceased’s funds and exercising discretion as to who, when and how much money should be distributed. However, trustees may be criticised by beneficiaries for their decisions, especially if they are believed to have a conflict of interest.
Estate assets have been tampered with
Will dispute lawyers often find that people related to the deceased are unaware as to what they should do with the deceased’s assets once they have passed on. Possessions may be taken (with good or bad intentions), in which case the person(s) responsible is required to return the assets. An injunction may be required to stop them if they do not cooperate.
Executor is taking too long
One of the most common complaints experienced by will dispute lawyers is that the executors are too slow in their administration of the estate. However, beneficiaries are typically unaware of the long process involved in doing so – it can take weeks to months in order to obtain the power to act. Executors should try to manage expectations and ensure that beneficiaries are kept informed and up-to-date regarding the process.
Will dispute lawyers are aware of many reasons why a person might want to contest the validity of a property distribution document; some claims are more likely to be successful than others.