7 Important Things to Consider When a Will Could be Challenged
When a family member passes away, sometimes there is anxiety about whether everyone will be happy with the contents of the Will. Instead of anticipating the worst, be well prepared with these 7 important considerations if the Will could be challenged:
Is the family all aware of the Will contents?
The family may not have even seen the Will yet. It may be all speculation.
Make sure that everyone who is a beneficiary in the Will gets a copy. Make sure that everyone who may have been a beneficiary under intestacy (if there was no Will) has a copy of the Will.
Is the person threatening to challenge the Will even eligible?
In each State, there are a range of people who are eligible to make a claim against a Will. Some States have narrower categories than others.
For example, in Victoria, only a spouse, adult children, minor children, or someone who is financial dependent on the deceased person, are eligible. Brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, and grandchildren are not eligible.
Who else could have a claim?
There might be someone very vocal about being upset about the Will. But there might be someone who would have a better claim. They just might not want to make a claim.
When a claim is made against a Will, the circumstances of all the beneficiaries is relevant to be weighed up.
What assets are covered by the Will and which aren’t?
What could even be included in a claim? Some assets are covered by the Will, and some are not.
Superannuation is often not included in an estate. Joint assets are not included in an estate.
So there might be less damage done to the assets covered by the Will be a claim than anticipated.
How much is the combined asset value?
Once you’re aware of what assets are actually in the estate, you’ll be able to work out the net value of the estate.
There are other assets not included in the estate, and so some family members will directly benefit from those rather than through the Will. The value of those benefits can also be established.
Then you have a better idea of the value that family members are receiving, whether through the Will or not.
Is the family willing to waste $100,000 on a legal battle?
To be blunt, the main people who benefit when there is a family dispute over someone’s death, are the lawyers.
A legal battle is not a win-win outcome in the majority of cases. It is most often a lose-lose outcome.
While someone may feel like they ‘won’, or the position they took was upheld, mot often they actually compromise something. So it’s actually a loss, and then they end up with less because of legal fees as well.
Is the family willing to try a different way?
There is a different way to have a safe and guided conversation with family members to resolve any issues that are arising. You can use a group of professionals to facilitate a number of conversations with the family that can lead to positive outcomes for everyone.
The professionals are called ‘collaborative practitioners’. See more here.
There are lawyers, coaches, mediators and financial planners who can support your family through conversations that can keep the family together.