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For a variety of reasons, people might feel they have not been reasonably provided for when someone dies, whether it’s a family member or someone who they share a close relationship with.
If that’s you and you have no legal background, chances are you’ll have no idea where to begin exploring your options to contest a will. You’ll be stressed and emotional. You’ll be anxious about the potential costs and uncertain outcomes.
Challenging a will is not an everyday life skill you simply pick up from your parents or via osmosis during high school. There’s no “Contest A Will 101” offered at the local TAFE college either. In fact, I can’t name a single soul in my circle who has challenged a will.
But, if you do feel you’ve been unfairly treated, I imagine the compulsion to right the wrong is powerful and not likely to fade until you confirm your rights.
It’s a complex process and you’re going to need professional help to understand your entitlements and the potential of going after what you feel you deserve.
This is where specialist lawyers can assist.
Challenge A Will lawyers can help you to contest a will. They can establish whether or not you are an eligible person to claim a provision from an estate and guide you through the process.
Let me tell you a story …
When my sister Gay passed away, it was sudden and unexpected. She was only forty-seven. As a family, we were unprepared. Fortunately, Gay had been super organised in her personal affairs. Just three days before she died, I’d popped in with her to see her solicitor to finalise her will. It was a fluke – it was my birthday and we were wandering into the city for a celebratory shopping expedition and happened by her solicitor’s office. Gay twigged she had papers waiting for her signature and we popped in and got the job done. Not because she had any inkling of what was coming (none of us did) but because she was due to travel overseas within the week. We were living in a post 9/11 world that told us anything could happen, so she was keen to make her wishes clear. Tying up the loose ends.
Then, the inexplicable happened. While we lurched around in the darkness of shock and sadness, we at least knew what Gay wished for, how she wanted her affairs and estate handled. For us, it was black and white.
It’s not always that way. For many families there are grey areas – out of date wills, blended family units, divorces, new relationships, brothers and sisters by other mothers or fathers, family squabbles, and the list goes on. All families wax and wane, lose touch with one another and reconnect at different times. Relationships change and evolve. As do responsibilities and expectations.
Although a will is all about contingency for a future event, its provisions reflect the here and now, the current status quo, the will-maker’s current state of mind. And not everyone is as organised as Gay was in updating their will, to mirror the here and now as it changes.
It makes sense, logically and morally, that our legal system allows those who feel the need to take action to contest or challenge a will. And it makes sense that specialist lawyers guide the journey.