Disputes about wills, estates and trusts are common. They’re also complex and costly to resolve, so it’s important to understand how they work and how to avoid them. You need to explore claims against a deceased estate
Here are some additional tips to help you.
Things to remember when dealing with will disputes
1. Make a will as soon as you have assets to protect
Anyone with money or other assets should make a will as soon as they can. A will is the only way to ensure your wishes are followed after you die. Otherwise, the law decides who gets your property and who looks after your kids. It may not be who you’d choose or what you’d want, and it may cost more than necessary.
2. Choose an executor you trust – one who is willing to do the job
The executor of your will has the legal duty of managing your estate in accordance with your wishes, so choose someone who knows what that involves and will do it properly.
3. Be specific about special gifts
If you want to give anything away for free, such as a house or a boat, make sure you say so clearly in your will, otherwise there may be confusion about whether it was intended for someone else or the gift failed because of some technical issue (such as too many words).
4. Act fast
In most Australian states and territories, there is a strict time limit within which you need to commence proceedings by lodging an application in the court. If you don’t commence your action within the prescribed time limit, you may be prevented from contesting the will. Therefore, it is crucial that you act quickly.
5. Get legal advice early
The law surrounding wills and probate is complex and highly technical. It is imperative to obtain specialist legal advice as early as possible to understand your rights and obligations before commencing any legal proceedings.
6. Be clear and specific in your will
If you’re leaving specific items to people, outline these clearly in the will. If an item is not mentioned specifically, it may be unclear who it should go to, leading to disputes between family members.
7. Keep your will up-to-date
If there are significant changes in your life (for example, the birth of a child or grandchild), ensure you update your will as soon as possible. A failure to do so could lead beneficiaries to argue that they have been unfairly excluded from the will.
Succession planning is the last thing you want to think about, but it’s a crucial part of your financial plan. The process can be very straightforward if you have your affairs in order and have discussed your intentions with family members. However, complications can arise if there are signs that a will may be contested or if the deceased has accumulated significant assets.
If you’re dealing with a complex situation, an experienced succession lawyer may be able to assist and provide some peace of mind for all concerned.