Big Rise in Estate Litigation

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According to a recent joint report by the University of Queensland, QUT and the Victoria University, 74% of contested wills were successful.

The report, titled, “Having the Last Word” further revealed that 63% of contested will claims were launched by children of the deceased, followed by 23 per cent of will contests being instigated by partners and ex-partners. Moreover, one third of Australians had experienced tension or conflict in their families due to the distribution of assets and inheritance under a Will.

The release of the report comes off the back of new legislation introduced in Victoria that originally was to significantly tighten potential claims, only to later adopt a less restrictive approach.

More specifically, in the first draft of the bill it was a requirement that children must be financially dependent upon the deceased at the time of death to lodge a claim. This particular aspect of the proposed legislation caused considerable concern and later was amended.

Under the Justice Legislation Amendment (Succession and Surrogacy) Act , children, adopted children, step-children, grandchildren, spouses and other dependants are eligible to make a claim on a deceased person’s estate. However, the court will use its discretion in considering the full extent to which a potential claimant can provide for themselves as well as taking into consideration the financial impact on other beneficiaries.

Be that as it may, one thing is apparent from both the release of the “Having the Last Word” report and the introduction of new reactive legislation by the Victoria government, and that is that there is a significant increase in the numbers of people who are disputing wills.

If you are considering contesting a will, in our experience as leading estate litigation lawyers, there are a number of legitimate reasons for doing so, they include:

– You were left out of the Will;

– You were specifically excluded in the Will;

– The intentions of the Will are unclear;

– You can show that the deceased was unduly influenced by other beneficiaries;

– You believe that the Will is unfair;

– You believe you may have evidence that reveals that at the time of making the Will, the deceased lacked the mental capacity to do so.

If you wish to contest a will, very strict time limits apply. A claim must be filed within 6 months of the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.

For more information, we highly recommend you download our guide, or alternatively, make a free, no-obligation appointment with one of our experienced lawyers.

Author Estate Lawyers

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