What Happens if You Have Been Left Out of a Will

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Understanding Your Rights as a Disappointed Beneficiary

It can be a distressing and perplexing experience if you are left out of a will. As a dissatisfied beneficiary, you may believe that you were wrongfully excluded from a loved one’s estate. However, it is critical to understand that you do have certain rights, which is why you should retain the services of an experienced wills lawyer like Empower Law Group to help you understand these rights. 

Certain family members and dependents of the deceased person have the right to make a claim for provision from the deceased person’s estate under certain circumstances and articles of law, even if they were completely left out of the will. This is known as a family provision claim.

To be eligible to file a family provision claim, you must be the deceased person’s spouse or de facto partner, a child of the deceased person, a former spouse or de facto partner of the deceased person, or a person who was dependent on the deceased person at the time of their death.

If you are eligible to file a family provision claim, you must do so within 12 months of the deceased person’s death. This may entail filing an application with the Supreme Court of New South Wales, which will then consider a number of factors to determine whether or not a provision should be made from the estate for you.

Reasons for Being Left Out of a Will

Before filing a family provision claim, it is critical to understand why you were left out of the will in the first place. This could happen for a number of reasons, including:

  • The deceased person may have simply forgotten to update their will to include you as a beneficiary.
  • The deceased person may have intentionally excluded you because they had a falling out with you or because they did not think you needed the provision.
  • The deceased person may have been unduly influenced by someone else to exclude you from the will.
  • The deceased person may not have had the mental capacity to make a valid will at the time that they excluded you.

Understanding why you were left out of the will can be helpful when making a family provision claim, as it can help you to make a stronger case for why you should be entitled to provision from the estate.

The Family Provision Claim Process

If you have been left out of a will and are eligible to make a family provision claim, the process can be complex and time-consuming. It is recommended that you seek the advice of an experienced estate lawyer who can guide you through the process and help you to understand your rights and obligations.

To make a family provision claim, you will need to provide evidence to the court to support your claim. This may include evidence of your financial needs, your relationship with the deceased person, and the circumstances surrounding your exclusion from the will.

The court will also consider a range of other factors, including the size of the estate, the competing claims of other beneficiaries, and the deceased person’s reasons for leaving you out of the will.

If the court determines that you are entitled to provision from the estate, it may make an order that changes the distribution of the deceased person’s assets. This could involve ordering that certain assets be given to you, or that the estate be divided in a different way.

Seeking the Advice of an Estate Lawyer

If you have been left out of a will, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced estate lawyer as soon as possible. An estate lawyer can help you to understand your rights as a disappointed beneficiary and can guide you through the family provision claim process.

An estate lawyer can also help you to gather the evidence you need to support your claim and can represent you in court if necessary. 

Challenging the Validity of a Will

Sometimes, a person may want to challenge the validity of a will. There are several grounds on which a will can be challenged. These grounds include:

  • Lack of capacity: If the person who made the will did not have the mental capacity to understand the nature and consequences of their actions when they made the will, then the will can be challenged.
  • Undue influence: If the person who made the will was unduly influenced by someone else when they made the will, then the will can be challenged.
  • Fraud: If the person who made the will was misled or deceived into making the will, then the will can be challenged.
  • Improper execution: If the will was not executed properly, for example, if it was not signed by the testator and witnessed by two independent witnesses, then the will can be challenged.

If a person wishes to challenge the validity of a will, they can file a family provision claim or a probate caveat in the Supreme Court. It is important to seek the advice of an experienced estate lawyer before taking any legal action.

The Role of Supreme Court in Inheritance Disputes

In some states Supreme Court has jurisdiction over inheritance disputes. The court’s role is to interpret the will and determine the rights of the beneficiaries.

If a person has been left out of a will or they believe they have not been adequately provided for, they can file a family provision claim in the Supreme Court. A family provision claim is a legal action that seeks to challenge the distribution of assets in a will.

The court will consider a range of factors when determining whether to make a family provision order, including the financial needs and resources of the applicant, the size and nature of the estate, the relationship between the applicant and the deceased, and any other relevant factors.

In addition to family provision claims, the Supreme Court can also hear probate disputes, which involve challenges to the validity of a will or disputes over the appointment of an executor.

It is important to seek the advice of an experienced estate lawyer if you are considering taking legal action in relation to an inheritance dispute. An estate lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and the options available to you, and can represent you in court if necessary.

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