After someone has passed away and the will read, there may be relatives who are unhappy with the asset distribution. In some cases, a will may be contested by loved ones who were unhappy with what they were left. However, there are only a handful of reasons to contest someone’s will.
Who Can Contest a Will?
The rules for contesting a will vary from state to state, but in general, the only people eligible to contest a will are relatives or people who lived with or were dependent on the deceased. The relatives eligible to contest a will include:
- Former Spouses
- De Facto Partners
In New South Wales and Victoria, the grandchildren of a deceased individual may contest a will at any time if they were wholly or partially dependent on the deceased. However, in Queensland, a grandchild has to be under the age of 18 and have been dependent at the time of their grandparent’s death. Stepchildren can also contest a will in QLD and VIC, but in NSW, they would need to have been dependent on their stepparent at the time of their death to be eligible to file a dispute.
Members of the deceased’s household can also contest the will if they were dependent on, and lived with, the deceased at any time. Also, someone in a close relationship with the deceased who had been living with them can also contest their will. However, in QLD, people who were dependents or in a close relationship with the deceased, and not related to him or her, are not eligible to contest it.
Reasons to Contest a Will
There are only a few reasons to contest a will:
- Financial needs of eligible family members
- “Grossly unfair” will terms
- Mentally incompetent deceased
- Dependents wholly or partially financially dependent on the deceased
- Undue influence on the Executor
Deadlines for Contesting a Will
If you want to dispute the deceased’s will, you only have a certain amount of time to do so. In VIC, you have to contest a will within six months of granting probate. In QLD, you have nine months from the date of the deceased’s death, as long as you received notification within six months of their passing, and in NSW, you have 12 months from the date of death to file a dispute.
Even if the time limit for contesting the deceased’s will has passed, there are special circumstances which allow you to file a dispute against their will, including not being aware the deceased had passed and not being aware of the deadlines for contesting wills. With this information, a lawyer may be able to help you get an extension to contest the will of the deceased, as long as you are considered an eligible person by law.