Things to Consider When Contesting an Estate Plan

Having a loved one pass away is never an easy thing to deal with, but then discovering that you’ve been left out of their Will, or the provisions are inadequate can really exacerbate your grief and cause a lot of stress for years to come.

In the case of an elderly loved one passing, there are a few instances where you’ll need to challenge their Will. Due to the vulnerability of the elderly, there could be cases of undue influence, where a non-family member can manipulate them into neglecting their own family and leaving their assets to the manipulator. Similarly, a common form of elderly abuse occurs when they fall prey to their own family members who may pressure (or even blackmail) them into unfairly giving up their assets, completely leaving out those who may be more deserving. It could also be a case of testamentary incapacity where the deceased wasn’t mentally sound when the Will was written.

In any case, if you feel the terms of a loved one’s Will are unfair, dubious, or out of character, you may be able to contest it. But there are a few essential things you need to consider.

Eligibility

The following are those who are eligible to contest a Will and estate plan:

  • Husband or wife of the deceased.
  • Someone who was in a de-facto relationship with the deceased at the time of death.
  • Biological child.
  • Grandchild who was either wholly or partly dependent on the deceased.
  • Someone who was a member of the same household and either wholly or partly dependent on the deceased.
  • Someone was in a “close personal relationship” with the deceased at the time of death.

Legal Preparation

Contesting a Will can be a long and arduous uphill battle – particularly when disputing it against other family members so be prepared. It’s also good to be sure that the potential gain from winning the case far outweighs the costs of the dispute – financially, mentally and emotionally. You should also make sure you contest the Will within 12 months from the date of death, unless you’re granted an extension by the court for an exceptional circumstance. 

It’s also imperative to have a substantial amount of evidence to support your case. For instance, with undue influence, you need to be able to provide proof that the deceased was being taken advantage of and the manipulator benefited from their Will as a result.

All things considered, disputing a Will and estate plan is often complicated and messy, which is why having a trustworthy, experienced and compassionate estate lawyer is of the utmost importance. 

So, if you feel you have the grounds to challenge a Will, speak to one of our experts today. Not only are we exceptionally skilled in estate law, we also go above and beyond to help you navigate your grief and the stress that often comes with dealing with a loved one’s passing. 

Because at Taylor & Scott, we care for you.