When contesting a will there are various factors to consider, such as whether you have a good claim and whether you want to go to mediation or court. It can be an emotionally stressful ordeal but can be very worth it.

Are you ready to get your life back on track and get the inheritance you deserve? This article shares the 5 steps involved in successfully contesting a will.

1.     Get an appraisal

After you have chosen your desired legal support team, you’ll need to arrange a time to meet with them and discuss your situation. This might be over the phone, via email or in person, depending on your chosen provider and your preferences.

In order to understand your situation and the strength of your case, some of the questions they are likely to ask you include:

  • What was the date of death of the deceased? (Contesting a will involves time limits, so this question is important)
  • How is the deceased related to you?
  • What was the duration and nature of your relationship with them?
  • Are you aware of the total value of the assets and estate (approximately)?
  • Are you aware of who the executor/s is/are?
  • Have you received a provision and how much was it?
  • Are you a beneficiary?
  • What is your earning capacity and financial standing at the moment?

It may be a good idea to prepare your answers to these questions in advance of the meeting as it can help to speed the process up.

2.     The executor/s are contacted

Assuming your claim has been deemed “good”, your contesting a will legal team then gets in touch with the executor/s. If your claim is considered unlikely to succeed, your team should inform you of alternative options to pursue, assuming there are any.

A “good” claim is a claim that has a high chance of success, and usually constitutes the following:

  1. Eligibility: This means you had a meaningful relationship to the deceased, such as being a spouse or child. If you were dependent on them you are likely to be eligible.
  1. Financial need: You should be able to prove that you are financially in need of the deceased’s support.
  2. Other beneficiaries: If there are other beneficiaries with specific needs, this may be taken into consideration. For instance, are their needs more pressing than your own?
  3. Estate size: If the deceased estate is small, it mightn’t be worth the trouble of contesting a will.

It is then required to notify the executor/s of your claim. Once this has been done, it may be resolved quite quickly if it is a strong claim.

3.     Documents are drafted

After this has been done your legal team then begins getting documents and evidence ready. After it’s all been gathered, they’ll then take it to the other people involved in the case and try to reach an agreement. Contesting a will is mostly done outside of court in order to save money and time.

4.     Resolution

You can then decide between agreement, hearing or mediation to settle your case. Agreement involves having you and the other parties make offers until you come to an agreement. Mediation is a compulsory process involving having a neutral third party help all involved come to a solution through discussion. Hearing involves going to court; this is usually only done as a last resort.

Keep in mind that the vast majority – around 90% – of people contesting a will resolve the matter during mediation or before; they do not have to go to court.