When individuals decide to contest a will, there are a number of things they will need to consider. One of these is how they will undertake the dispute process.
To help individuals who might be considering this process, here are three of the main forms an estate dispute can take:
Family provision claims
Family provisions are the most common grounds to contest a will, and will involve demonstrating that a person didn't receive an adequate allowance under the proposed distribution provided in the will.
This option is open to close family members, as well as those who are financially dependent on the deceased and require ongoing financial maintenance. As well as demonstrating their eligibility, individuals will need to prove any existing provision is insufficient and that they have a genuine financial need for a share of the estate.
Validity of a will
In some cases, a will can be contested on the grounds that it doesn't reflect the wishes of the deceased. This will often occur if a new will is drafted by the deceased under suspicious circumstances (for example, the deceased did not have the necessary mental capacity at the time the will was made) or undue influence.
The burden of proof in these cases will lie with the plaintiff to prove that the will should not be used to distribute an estate because it is invalid.
Finally, in some situations, it will be possible to contest how an estate is being administered, as well as the contents of the will itself. If, for example, the executor of an estate is failing to meet his/her legal obligations of this role, this might be grounds for the beneficiaries to take legal action and seek the appointment of a new executor.
It is also possible in some instances for beneficiaries to apply for letters of administration to administer the estate themselves.
For more information on beginning an estate dispute, make sure to discuss your options with a wills and estates lawyer.