Managing legal battles with family

Is Blood Thicker Than Money? What to Do When a Will Is Disputed

It is said that most major disputes around the world are triggered by some kind of argument over money. In fact, some people say that you only really see the "true colours" of an individual when it comes to an issue over cash. Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising, therefore, that all kinds of problem can arise whenever the last will and testament of a family member is revealed. Are family bonds stronger than financial ones? What are some of the things can go wrong here, and how can you prepare for this?

What Does the Law Say?

Anybody has the right to bequeath property as they wish when they pass away and give the assets to family members and friends in a manner of their choosing. The law relating to estates and wills in Australia confirms this freedom, but it also allows individuals to challenge decisions in a number of different scenarios. Usually, any disputes are fairly minor and relatively easy to settle, although it has been known for some family members to contest a will so vigourously that they take the matter all the way through to the Supreme Court.

Grounds for Dispute

A will can be contested if it is alleged that the person making it was put under undue influence at the time. It could be said that a third party had their own reasons for "advising" that the will be constructed a certain way. More common, however, is the argument that the person was not in sound mind at the time that the will was created, and this type of scenario is becoming more commonplace, as dementia comes into the equation.

The Challenge Ahead

Further complications can arise in trying to determine the actual thoughts of the deceased. Sometimes, several different versions of the will may be in evidence, going back over a number of years. It's also possible that very different instructions were issued in those wills, so it can be challenging to understand how to unravel it all.

Taking Care

Despite all this complexity and the goals of the individuals involved, it's much better to come up with a solution that satisfies all, before a lot of money is spent on legal costs. Remember that any costs involved will typically come out of the estate, and the amount of money or other assets held for distribution can be subsequently decreased.

Taking Action

If you're not happy with the content of a will for whatever reason, then it's a good idea for you to have a word with a wills and estate lawyer. It's also in your best interest to act as soon as possible.