There is a difference between “disputing a Will” and challenging a Will by “claiming on an estate”. To “dispute a Will” is to challenge the validity of the Will. A person could challenge the validity of your Will if they believe:
- you did not have the mental capacity to make a Will;
- the Will was forged;
- you were unduly influenced (i.e. there was trickery, force, pressure or fear involved) when making the Will; or
- there is fraud involved
To avoid such claims it is best to make a legally binding Will with a trusted Solicitor while you are mentally and physically healthy and to regularly update your Will.
There is no way to prevent your Will being challenged after you die. However, you can try to reduce the risk of this happening and reduce the impact it has on your estate if it does happen.
- Reduce the risk of a claim on your estate by having a comprehensive Statutory Declaration prepared setting out the reasons why an eligible person/s is not included or will only be receiving a certain amount. This is the only way of putting before the Court your reasons for making the Will the way in which you have. The Court will then consider what you have stated. It is at the discretion of the Court to decide whether the amount you have provided for an eligible person is considered ‘’adequate’’ and is different in every circumstance.
- Reduce the impact a claim could have on your estate by passing ownership of your assets to your preferred beneficiaries while you are still alive so these assets do not form part of your estate.
- There is more to managing your affairs after you die than just a will. In some instances, you can ensure that your assets can be passed to your chosen beneficiary without them becoming an asset of your estate i.e. joint tenancy, superannuation (in some jurisdictions)
The most effective strategy to avoid claims being made or to minimise their impact on your estate is to discuss your options with your solicitor when drafting or reviewing your Will. Wright Clarke Solicitors works with clients and their financial advisers to review all your assets and develop effective estate planning strategies to minimise the risks of poorly crafted estate plans and Wills.