Defending Wills Against a Claim
Defending a Will without proper legal advice can be stressful. It’s the last thing you want to deal with as an Executor. That’s where we can help. At Unified Lawyers, we have a dedicated Sydney team who specialise in defending Wills. We’ll ensure the process is a smooth as possible.
The law in NSW allows people to decide who will inherit their assets after their death. However, there are times that someone may want to contest a Will left by the deceased.
Our Sydney Lawyers Specialise In Defending Wills
Upon someone’s death, the appointed Executor of this deceased person’s Will carries out their wishes and distributes their estate to the beneficiaries of the Will. Most people will respect the last wishes of the deceased, but there are times that one or more people may think that the Will is unfair and decide to challenge the Will.
Why would you need to defend a Will?
The law in New South Wales allows people to decide who inherits their assets after they die. Similar legislation exists in all Australian States and Territories. People can do this by preparing a Will.
If a person dies without a Will, their assets are distributed based on a legal formula. That distribution may not have been what the deceased person wanted.
A person preparing a Will must nominate an Executor. This is usually a highly trusted family member or close friend. The Executor is responsible for carrying out the wishes of the deceased person. It includes distributing their estate. A person’s estate includes all the assets they own when they die. For example:
- Personal effects (such as jewelry).
- Cash (including bank accounts).
- Motor vehicles.
- Real estate.
- Business interests.
The Executor is responsible for distributing the estate’s assets. They do this based on the provisions made in the Will. The people who receive the assets are called the beneficiaries.
Most people respect the last wishes of the deceased. But one or more people may think that the Will is unfair. They might decide to contest or challenge it by making a legal claim. Reasons they might do this include:
- Family provision claims. For example, a family member might have been left out of a Will. Or they might be unhappy with their split of the estate’s assets.
- They may think that it is poorly worded and unclear.
- They might think that it isn’t valid. For example, there may be evidence that the deceased person was not in a fit state of mind to make the Will.
People can be highly emotional in these circumstances. It can affect family relationships and friendships.
What assets are usually excluded from an Estate?
- Jointly owned assets. The ownership of these assets passes to the surviving joint owner.
- Life insurance and superannuation. When you take out life insurance and join a superannuation fund, you nominate a beneficiary. They receive your insurance payout and superannuation fund proceeds directly.
- Certain types of Trust assets.
Our Will and Estate services
At Unified Lawyers, we have extensive experience in both contesting and defending Wills. You can benefit from that expertise. We can:
- Help you settle disputes.
- Represent you at court hearings if necessary. The Supreme Court hears contested Will cases in New South Wales.
- Draft all your legal documents.
- Apply and obtain a Grant of Probate on your behalf. A deceased person’s assets usually won’t be released until Probate is granted by the Supreme Court. Probate validates a Will and its Executor’s right to manage and distribute its assets.
- Apply for a letter of administration on your behalf. A letter of administration is necessary when a person does without a Will. In legal terms, this is known as dying intestate. In these situations, the Supreme Court provides the letter of administration. They also appoint an administrator. The administrator collects the assets of the estate and distributes them based on a legal formula.
We can also assist with the administration of the estate if necessary. This includes:
- Collecting all the assets of the estate.
- Paying the deceased’s debts.
- Publishing a notice of intended distribution.
- Distributing the estate.
At United Lawyers, we offer:
- Competitive and fixed fees for most probate and letter of administration applications.
- High-quality and prompt service.
- Regular communication. We’ll always keep you in the loop.
- An experienced and friendly team of experts.
If you need to defend a Will or receive any other Estate advice, contact us today. We have offices situated in the Sydney CBD, Marrickville, Parramatta, North Sydney and Bondi Junction.
We’ll provide you with caring and personal service. You don’t have to go it alone. Let us make things easier for you during what can be a difficult and emotional time. We can advise you every step of the way.
DISCLAIMER: The content of this publication does not constitute legal advice and is intended only to provide a summary and general overview. We do not guarantee that it is current. You should seek specialist legal advice or other professional advice about your specific circumstances. Your access to this publication is not intended to create nor does it create a solicitor-client relationship between you and Unified Lawyers.