Defending a Will FAQs: Basic Tips for Defending a Will in an Estate Dispute

A quick Google search will reveal that there are minimal statistics on will disputes in Australia. However, a joint project between The University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology and Victoria University revealed that about 59% of Australians have a will and about 22% expect to make one. In their report titled “Having the Last Word? Will Making and Contestation in Australia,” researchers found that “making a will is triggered by life stage changes or changes in assets,” and that “not all wills reflect current intentions and/or circumstances.” Herein lies the problem: not maintaining an updated will may lead to estate disputes down the road. Beneficiaries may consider contesting a will if they feel they are not properly provided for in the will, while family members might think of challenging a will if they find that the will is not valid. In these events, executors of will shall have to defend the will. But what does defending a will involve and who can defend a will? Those are just some of the most common defending a will FAQs, which answers can be found below.

Most Common Defending a Will FAQs

What does it mean to defend a will?

This is one of the most basic defending a will FAQs. What does it truly mean to defend a will? When a will maker dies, his will outlines his last wishes, specifically on how to distribute the assets and properties he left behind, simply called an estate. An estate is distributed to beneficiaries as stated in a will. Sometimes, estate disputes arise because some beneficiaries are either left out of the will entirely or believe they have not been properly or fairly provided for in the will. This results to a will dispute in which beneficiaries challenge a will. However, if beneficiaries find the will invalid on several grounds, it may also be challenged. Challenging a will means questioning its validity entirely. Both challenging a will and contesting a will require supporting evidence. Defending a will means that the executor of will defends its validity on the grounds of testamentary capacity, undue influence, fraud or forgery, and others.

Who are eligible individuals who can defend a will?

Another most common defending a will FAQs is, who can defend a will? There are only two eligible persons who can defend a will: an executor of will or an individual who has been appointed by the court as an administrator specifically tasked to handle will challenges. An executor of will or will executor is a person who has been appointed to administer the estate according to the testator’s wishes, as outlined in a will. An executor of will is also named in the will and is often a person who is close to the testator and whom the testator trusts. In the event that no executor of will is named, the state appoints an individual to act as the executor of will. Aside from defending a will, the duties and responsibilities of an executor of will include ensuring that all debts are paid and all taxes are accounted for, as per Legal Match. It is the responsibility of an executor of will to oversee the distribution of assets and properties specifically as outlined in the will.

What happens when one defends a will?

One of the primary steps in defending a will is determining the eligibility of the person challenging or contesting it. An individual is eligible to challenge a will if he or she is the spouse of the deceased during the time of death, an individual who was in a de facto relationship with the deceased during the time of their death, a child of the deceased, former spouse of the deceased, a grandchild who was wholly or partly dependent on the deceased, or an individual who was wholly or partly dependent on the deceased and was part of their household. Alternately, contesting a will is done by eligible individuals who are a surviving spouse, a surviving domestic partner or same sex partner, a child or step-child of the deceased, or a person who was dependent on the deceased or a person upon which the deceased was dependent on.

Are there costs involved in defending a will?

Yes, there are costs involved in defending a will, however these costs are often covered by the estate. The executor of will is not liable for legal costs involved in defending a will, but he must ensure that the estate pays for any costs that incur during the will defending process.

Does one need the assistance of an estate lawyer in defending a will?

When defending a will, it is best to have knowledgeable and experienced estate lawyers to assist you through will disputes. Their skills and experiences are valuable in the process of successfully defending a will and yielding desirable results that won’t cause rifts between family members. These estate lawyers can also provide insights on the estate laws governing one’s case and how they can benefit from it.

Estate disputes are no easy feat. If you’re in a position where you need to defend a will, get in touch with an estate lawyer today.

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