Dealing with a will does not always go smoothly following the death of a loved one. Sometimes, there may be the need to challenge it. There are multiple reasons for challenging a will. For instance, you may not have been provided for adequately under the will. you might also argue that the will is invalid. However, the process of contesting a will can be quite complex and you need to know a few things about the process to make it successful. Therefore, here are some of the key things you need to know about contesting a will.
Not everyone is eligible to contest a will. There are three major categories of eligible applicants when it comes to contesting a will. You must be the deceased's child, spouse, or dependent to be eligible to contest the will. A spouse can mean the deceased's wife, husband, registered partner, or de facto partner. They can also be a former wife, husband, or registered partner. The child can be the deceased's biological child, stepchild legally-adopted child, or unborn child.
When it comes to dependants, you must prove that by the date of the deceased's death, you were either substantially or wholly maintained by him or her. Therefore, dependants may include amongst others, the deceased's parents, nephews, nieces, stepchild, brother, sister, foster child etc.
Grounds to Challenge or Contest A Will
The laws regarding the grounds to contest a will vary across states and territories. However, there are similar circumstances that will allow you to challenge a will regardless of where you are in the country. First, you can challenge a will on grounds of undue influence. You have to prove that the deceased wasn't coerced into drawing the will through any form of intimidation, pressure, force etc. You can also contest a will if you believe that the deceased lacked the mental capacity needed to draw a valid will. You will also have to provide proof of this and to do so you may need to show that the deceased was under the influence of drugs, alcohol and other substances or suffered from medical conditions such as senility that would make him or her not understand the consequences of creating the will. At the time of will creation, the creator must understand things such as the extent as well as the value of their estate, the beneficiaries, and how the estate will be distributed.
Forgery and fraud are also other grounds to contest a will. Since the process of contesting a will can be quite complicated, it is advisable to hire a reputable wills lawyer to guide you through the process.