When a will is contested, it is normally done, legally, for the following reasons:
- The will was not properly executed.
- A testator did not possess the required mental competency.
- The testator of the will did not have sufficient knowledge of the will’s contents.
- The testator was under undue influence.
- The will is fraudulent.
In some instances, a will may be valid. However, the claimant may not feel that he or she has received sufficient provision.
To contest a will, challenging a will solicitors must initially be notified. Establishing a good claim and reviewing the other party’s weaknesses or strengths is required at the beginning. You do not want to make inflammatory allegations or get involved in emotional communications. If early disclosure is made, you can settle disputes. You can also realise reasonable settlements by receiving expert reports.
Mediating a Dispute
In all cases of a dispute, it is helpful to consider alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, especially mediation. If a dispute cannot be settled by an agreement, a claim form must be issued and supported by a pleaded case. In turn, the other party will serve a defence.
The type of process that is used will depend on the remedy that is sought. The court provides a directions timetable to initiate a trial, which will include the disclosure of documents and the exchange of evidentiary materials by witnesses.
Fortunately, most disputes can be resolved before a trial unfolds. If a resolution cannot be made, it takes about 12 to 18 months to reach trial from the time the court proceedings were initiated. If your role is that of personal representative, your influence will frequently be deemed neutral, with some specific exceptions.
The Time for Inheritance Claims
You will find that bringing a claim is time-sensitive. Otherwise, you may find that waiting proves making a claim futile. For instance, inheritance claims generally must be made within six months of the issuance of a grant of probate.
Again, you will not have to go to court unless a dispute escalates to a court trial. If a case does go to trial, the claimant must offer verbal statements along with other witnesses. If a settlement is reached before a trial, the claimant may have to face the other party during a mediation or meeting.
Sometimes a no-contest clause is built into a will. This clause states that the beneficiary forfeits his or her inheritance if he or she contests the will. Therefore, before you raise a legal dispute, you need to make sure that this clause is not included in the will. If your case is unsuccessful, you can lose your inheritance.
That is why you need to rely on the services of a competent solicitor. Investigate all the possible remedies first with a legal advocate. If you are disputing a will, you need to carefully review your claim.