Losing a loved one is never easy and can be further complicated with matters of the deceased person’s estate. Unfair wills are commonly disputed as the law does recognise that there are many reasons why a person may be entitled to more.
If you’ve been treated unfairly in a will, you may want to consider contesting it. If so, how long will it take to contest a will and how much will it cost to contest a will?
Read on to find out more about this process.
Reasons for contesting a will
There are many reasons that a will can be challenged such as:
- The deceased did not have the capacity to make a will at the time that they signed it
- The will was made under the influence of others
- A person that the deceased had a responsibility to care for, was not left a fair share of their assets
Other reasons may be considered but generally, the three above help build the strongest case. Only family members of the deceased can contest a will this includes their spouse, children, grandchildren, siblings or de facto partner.
If you are not considered an eligible person, you will have no entitlement to contest a will.
The process of contesting a will
If you believe you have a valid reason to challenge a will, your first step will be to speak with a will dispute lawyer. Many compensation lawyers offer a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case.
From then on, you can begin preparing your evidence. You may need to provide evidence of your financial capabilities, the size, and nature of the estate and any evidence that can prove the deceased had a responsibility of care towards you.
How much will it cost to contest a will?
The cost of contesting a will can vary. Most compensation lawyers offer a no win, no fee guarantee applicable to will dispute cases. This means that you do not have to worry about paying costly legal fees upfront and should you win the case, your legal fees can be covered by your compensation amount.
If you are unsuccessful, you may still have to pay a reduced amount of legal fees. However, a good will dispute lawyer will be able to tell you your likelihood of success, so that you do not begin a time-consuming court case without a strong chance of winning.
How long will it take to contest a will?
Contesting a will can be a timely process, so the quickest way to receive any entitlement is to begin the process as soon as possible. Once you have consulted with a will dispute lawyer who has advised you to take your case to court, your lawyer may try to negotiate with the executor so that the case can be settled out of court.
If these negotiations are successful, you may receive a resolution in a matter of weeks or months. If no agreement is reached, compensation lawyers will then lodge the appropriate documents to begin court proceedings.
Within 6 months your claim will be referred to mediation and if the dispute is not resolved during these proceedings, your case will be heard by the court.
It can take approximately 12 to 24 months for a case to be heard in court, so it is highly recommended that both parties attempt to come to an out-of-court settlement to speed up the process.
Time limits for contesting a will
There are strict time limits for contesting a will, so you must act quickly if you intend to do so. Time limits may vary across states but usually, you must challenge a will within 12 months of the will-maker’s passing.
If you have a good reason for missing the deadline you may still be able to begin a claim. Possible reasons include:
- You did not know the person had passed away
- You were not aware of the time limits
Consult with your will dispute lawyer for your best course of action.
What if you live in a different state to the deceased?
The state the deceased was residing in shall be the law applied to the will. Make sure you make this apparent to your will dispute lawyer so that they can provide you with the correct information relevant to the state.
Contesting a will is time is worthwhile if you believe you are entitled to more than you received. The process can take an emotional toll but it is important to remember that there can be major long-term benefits of contesting a will.
Contact Schreuder for a free consultation with one of our no win no fee lawyers.