Wills can be complicated legal documents which have the power to change people’s lives forever – in both good and bad ways. Unfortunately, you might not always agree with the contents of someone’s will once they’re passed away, especially if they haven’t left you an inheritance that you feel you’re entitled to.
But, there are a few things that you can do. In some cases, you actually do have the right to challenge a will in Australia, and I’m going to look at this in more detail through the rest of this article.
It’s important to note that different Australian states have slightly different laws when it comes to writing a will and a person’s ability to contest a will. Because of this, I’ve used Victoria as an example through the rest of this article. But, the rules are similar throughout most of Australia.
Why Would I Want To Contest A Will?
Generally, people contest a will when they either feel like they’ve been left out, despite deserving at least some inheritance, or when they feel like too much has been left to certain parties. Some common situations involving will disputes include:
- When a large portion of a person’s estate is left to a relatively new partner.
- When a person’s will may have been influenced by another person or people with a vested interest.
- When you feel that you’ve been unfairly excluded from a person’s will.
Ultimately, it doesn’t always matter how much you want to contest a will. You do have to meet certain criteria before you’re even eligible to.
When Am I Eligible To Contest A Will?
In Victoria, there are a number of people with valid reasons and the legal ability to challenge a will. If you’re challenging on a family maintenance basis, which essentially means that you feel that the deceased person had an obligation to provide for you, but they haven’t.
People who can challenge a will in Victoria on a maintenance basis include:
- The spouse or partner of the deceased person.
- Any child or step-child of the deceased who is under 18, under 25 and studying full-time, or suffering from a disability.
- Any adult children, grandchildren, or former spouses of the deceased.
- Registered caring partners of the deceased.
- Any person or people who belonged to the deceased’s household.
As you can see, there are a range of people with the legal right to challenge a will in Victoria.
What Should I Do If I Want To Challenge A Will?
Ultimately, the best thing to do if you’re thinking about challenging a will is to speak with your local lawyers office to determine whether or not you’re actually eligible. An experienced lawyer will be able to advise you on the best course of action to take, even if you’re not really sure what you’re doing.
It is usually possible to challenge a will in Australia, especially if you were a close relation to the deceased. Speak to your lawyer before you take any significant action, but make sure that you understand that challenging a will is an option.