Has someone close to you recently passed away? Do you feel you’ve been overlooked or under served by the specifics of their wishes? Thornton Storgato Law can help you navigate what comes next, whether you be the challenger or the challenged.
What is a will dispute?
The law states that certain individuals must be fairly provided for in a will, and while a will is an enforceable document, the orders are not always iron-clad. If you choose you to challenge a will, or you’ve been challenged as a representative of the estate, you may require legal representation to ensure the matter is resolved suitably and equitably.
Who can contest a will?
Recognised parties are limited to the following list of people. If you’re not sure if any of these categories apply to you, or your case is more complex, contact Thornton Storgato Law and we’ll define whether or not you’re eligible.
- Spouses or defacto partners, including ex-spouses and partners
- Biological or adoptive children
- Dependent grandchildren (you lived with your departed grandparent or they supported you financially)
- Other dependents, including step children and foster children
- Estates with no will
How long do you have to contest a will?
You have twelve calendar months from the date of death to begin your will dispute claim. We understand the difficulties and dynamics of families, relationships and how they relate to the courts.
How much does it cost to contest a will?
Legal fees are deducted from the estate, provided your claim meets a few conditions. We’ll be able to estimate your costs after our first meeting.
What is the process of contesting a will?
Both the executor and the challenger should seek legal advice before taking further steps. The Thornton Storgato Law team will honestly assess your claim or defense, communicating realistic possibilities so you can make informed decisions from submission to closure. After our initial meeting, there are three potential scenarios – agreement, mediation or court hearing.
Agreement – Working the other side’s legal representation, the issue is resolved by figuring out a number both parties are content to accept. A contract is then created to officiate this new agreement without a court appearance.
Example: The executor offers the claimant $100,000 to abandon the claim against the estate and the claimant agrees.
Mediation – Mediation is a compulsory process our will dispute clients go through to minimise the chances of a case going to court – 90% of will disputes are settled at or by this stage. A third party will work with you and the other side to determine a fair entitlement. We will provide support, legal advice and context before and during the process to ensure you best represent your interests.
Court – Your last resort. If you can not reach a mediated agreement, your case is escalated to a courtroom. A judge will hear both sides, examine the evidence and stipulate how much the claimant receives.
If you decide to proceed with your claim, or a claim has been made against your estate, the Thornton Storgato Law team will sit with you to understand the specifics of your case. Our advice is honest, reliable and rooted in real-world outcomes, ensuring the service you receive empowers you to move forward with confidence.