A fresh way to contest a Will … that won’t ruin the family

If you believe you need to contest a Will, but you also value the relationships with your other family members, there is a way to contest it that won’t ruin the family. The fresh way to do this is not to allow lawyers to escalate the issue into a dispute that goes to Court.

Traditionally, lawyers will work out your rights, and then help you enforce your rights. But they do this without consideration to the actual costs to you. 

contest a will

Not only do the lawyers benefit by increasing their own legal fees, at your cost, but the others costs to you include:

  • increased time to finalise the matter
  • stress and anxiety over the outcome
  • potentially splitting up the family so that relationships are lost
  • having dirty laundry aired
  • having your financial affairs disclosed to everyone involved, and
  • the control of the outcome is taken out of your hands.

Whereas there are a number of early interventions that can be used to keep a deceased estate out of court, and not letting an issue escalate into a full dispute when you need to contest a Will.

Other than talking amongst yourselves, the first is having an early-stage private mediation. With or without lawyers. This is then like a facilitated conversation, to make sure everyone is heard and everyone gets their chance to have their say. Then options are explored, and everyone keeps control of the situation.

But the best way to keep a deceased estate out of court if you need to contest a Will, particularly when family members find it difficult to talk and be in the same room as each other, is through a number of meetings called Collaborative Practice. 

Collaborative Practice involves having 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’. The reason this is done over a number of meetings, is to allow time for thought and processing emotions, instead of trying to rush to a decision during a time of grief.

There are lawyers, coaches, mediators and financial planners who can support your family through conversations that can keep the family together. During the meetings with the collaborative practitioners, you will discuss all the options, and keep control of creating an outcome that is win-win for everyone.

Our principal solicitor, Jacqui Brauman, is a collaborative practitioner for wills and estate in Victoria. Get in touch with her at 1300 043 103 or send an email to [email protected].