Contesting a Will in Victoria – A Short Guide
The emotionally charged and complex process of contesting a will in Victoria can be daunting. Here’s an overview of the process, helping you understand your rights, the grounds for contesting a will, and the steps involved.
Contesting a will – legally known as a Testator’s Family Maintenance Claim or, more commonly Part IV Claim, a Family Provision Claim – is a legal process where certain individuals challenge the distribution of a deceased’s estate under their will. The aim is to seek adequate provision from the estate for their proper maintenance and support.
Who Can Contest a Will?
Under the Administration and Probate Act 1958 (VIC), the following people are eligible to make a claim. In addition to the deceased person’s spouse or domestic partner at the time of death, eligible persons include a:
- Former spouse or domestic partner, if they were eligible to make a property claim against the deceased when they died
- Child or stepchild of the deceased
- Person who believed they were a child of the deceased and was treated as such
- Registered caring partner
- Person who was a member of the deceased’s household.
What are the Grounds for Contesting a Will?
A will can be contested on several grounds in Victoria:
- Inadequate Provision – this is the most common ground where the claimant believes the will did not make adequate provision for their proper maintenance and support.
- Lack of Testamentary Capacity – contesting on the basis that the deceased lacked the mental capacity to make a will.
- Undue Influence or Coercion – claiming the will resulted from pressure or manipulation.
- Fraud or Forgery – asserting the will is fraudulent or forged.
If you are considering contesting a will, Velos & Velos Lawyers can help you determine if there are grounds for this.
The Process of Contesting a Will
Each case is different, but the process of contesting a will in Victoria typically includes:
- Seek Legal Advice – due to the complexity of such cases, obtaining legal advice from a solicitor experienced in contested wills is crucial.
- Check the Time Limits – in Victoria, a claim must generally be made within six months from the grant of probate.
- Gather Evidence – this includes evidence of your relationship with the deceased, your financial circumstances, and any evidence supporting the grounds for your claim.
- Mediation and Settlement Negotiations – most will contests are settled out of court through mediation or settlement negotiations.
- Going to Court – if a settlement can’t be reached, the matter may proceed to a court hearing where a judge will decide based on the evidence presented.
The court considers various factors, such as the claimant’s financial need, the size of the estate, the relationship with the deceased, and any contributions made to the estate or the welfare of the deceased. The court may then decide to redistribute the estate.
Contesting a will in Victoria is a complex legal process and can be emotionally challenging. It requires careful consideration and expert legal guidance. Understanding your rights and the legal process is the first step towards making an informed decision about proceeding with a claim. Remember, each case is unique, and the outcome depends on the specific circumstances surrounding the claim.
Velos & Velos Lawyers – Victoria’s Premier Law Firm for Contesting Wills
We’ve been assisting clients with legal matters for over 40 years. Located in the Melbourne CBD, we specialise in providing expert legal assistance for those wishing to contest a will. Understanding that this is often a sensitive and emotionally charged process, we offer compassionate yet assertive representation.
Why Contest a Will?
The decision to contest a will is significant. Whether you believe the will does not reflect the true intentions of the deceased or you have been unfairly left out or inadequately provided for, our team is here to guide you. With deep expertise in Victoria’s succession laws, we are committed to helping you receive your rightful share of the estate.
Our Expertise in Will Disputes
At Velos & Velos lawyers, we are highly experienced and understand the intricacies of contesting wills. Our services are tailored to provide you with the best possible legal support:
- Evaluating Your Claim – we begin by assessing the validity of your claim, ensuring that your case falls within the legal grounds to be eligible to contest the will.
- Guiding You Through Legal Procedures – navigating the legal process can be overwhelming. We simplify the complexities, ensuring you understand each step.
- Negotiating and Mediating – our approach focuses on resolving disputes through negotiation and mediation, aiming for a settlement that respects your interests and minimises conflict.
- Litigation Support – if your case proceeds to court, our experienced litigators are prepared to robustly represent your interests.
What is the cost of contesting a will in Victoria?
Legal fees depend on the types of claims being made when contesting a will. At Velos & Velos, we pride ourselves on offering affordable legal services.
Why Choose Velos & Velos Lawyers?
Expert Legal Knowledge – we’ve been assisting with contesting wills in Victoria for over 40 years. Our team stays abreast of the latest developments in wills and estate law, offering you knowledgeable and up-to-date sound advice.
Personalised Attention – we understand that each situation is unique. You’ll receive personalised service that focuses on your specific needs and circumstances.
Compassionate Approach – we handle your case sensitively and respectfully, understanding the emotional challenges involved.
Results-Driven – our goal is always to achieve the best possible outcome for you, whether through negotiation or in the courtroom.
Let Our Expertise Be Your Guide and Support in Contesting a Will
If you believe you have a rightful claim to a loved one’s estate or have concerns about the validity of a will, don’t navigate this challenging time alone. Contact Velos & Velos Lawyers today on 03 8379 1000 for a consultation, or visit the Contact Us page above to get in touch.
To find out more about our services, see our related pages:
- Probate Lawyers Melbourne
- Letters of Administration Victoria
- Affordable Family Lawyers Melbourne
- Best Wills and Estates Lawyers Melbourne