A Will is a legal document that permits a person to make decisions on how their assets will be managed and distributed upon their death.
Wills are an important part of keeping estates and finances organised. If a deceased does not leave a Will behind, their loved ones can lose control over what happens to the estate. In some cases when the only living relatives are more than distant cousins, the estate can be passed to the Government.
As an increasing amount of people have complex family arrangements, such as second marriages, it is increasingly common for Wills to be contested. A person is entitled to leave their assets to anyone they wish. However, friends and relatives of the deceased can contest the Will.
There has been a significant growth in the value of superannuation assets held in retirement products. As a result of this, regulators, super funds and super funds members are increasing their focus on superannuation pensions. This extra attention on superannuation pensions is reflected by if they believe they have been left out, or not sufficiently provided for. Generally speaking, those who can contest a Will are not restricted to a spouse or children. Claimants can include a de-facto partner, former spouse or any other dependants.
To contest a Will, the claimant must begin their claim within twelve months of the death; however, this can be extended if adequate reason can be shown. The claimant must convince the Court that the deceased failed to make sufficient provisions for their maintenance, education or advancement in life.
To prevent a Will from being contested:
- carefully word the Will, making sure it is clear and unambiguous
- review the Will regularly to represent any changes within the family
- include a clause on why dependants have been excluded