Will and Estate Disputes

The death of a loved one is a difficult time for the family. This is compounded when there is uncertainty over the distribution of the estate. Forty Seven Legal are able to handle your inheritance dispute with empathy and sensitivity.

We often recommend alternative forms of dispute resolution, such as negotiation and mediation. But where Court action is unavoidable, we are able to represent our clients through all stages of the Court process. We have a proven track record of achieving successful outcomes for our clients.

will dispute

A dispute may arise for a number of reasons including:

  • The original will cannot be found;
  • The will was not executed properly;
  • The will is ambiguous and open to interpretation;
  • Family members were not adequately provided for;
  • A child, spouse or other eligible applicant was left out of the will;
  • The deceased did not make a will and died intestate;
  • The deceased did not have capacity when the will was made;
  • There was no valid beneficiary nomination for the deceased’s superannuation benefits;

It is important to get advice early. There may be time limits on when court proceedings can be commenced.

How are legal fees paid?

Our approach is to review the strength of your case from the start. We help you to make an informed decision on whether your claim is worth pursuing, and discuss payment options with you. If the case proceeds to trial, the court will often, but not always, allow for the costs to be paid out of the estate. However, in most cases, a good lawyer can settle the matter without the need for a trial. It is critical to choose a lawyer with expertise in this area to ensure you achieve the best outcome.

What if I am an executor of an estate and a beneficiary lodges a claim?

As the executor, you have a duty to maximise the value of the estate, and to defend claims brought by any person. You could be personally liable for failure to do so. However, the costs of defending the claim are generally recoverable from the estate. You should seek advice as soon as possible.

Case study – dying intestate

Brenda and Steve had been married for 20 years and were planning to retire shortly. Steve had two children from a previous relationship. Brenda did not have any children of her own.
Tragically, Steve died in an accident. Despite having assets worth $1.5 million, Steve had not made a will.
Under the rules of intestacy, Steve’s two children would each be entitled to a significant part of the estate while Brenda was left with an inadequate amount to fund her retirement.
Fortunately, Brenda sought legal advice. As a result, her lawyer was able to negotiate a settlement with Steve’s two children resulting in her receiving significantly more. She now had the confidence to retire, without financial concerns.

Case study – will out of date

Mary was close to her father and cared for him during his final years. Mary had a brother Tim who had not seen his father for many years.
Unfortunately, her father had not updated his will for a long time. When he died, Mary was shocked to discover that he had left her a property that he no longer owned and the balance of his estate to Tim. In other words, Tim would receive everything.
Fortunately, Mary sought legal advice. Her lawyer pointed out that she had a reasonably strong case and the court agreed, awarding her a fair share of the estate. In addition, her legal fees were recovered from the estate.