5 Things You Need to Know About Estate Disputes

We might hate the thought of family feuds and sibling rivalries but we can’t turn a blind eye to the fact that they exist. A major cause of family issues can be the will or parents or grandparents, which can lead to estate disputes when one or more beneficiaries show unhappiness towards the wishes of the will.

Estate Disputes: 5 Answers You Need to be Aware Of

Filing a dispute may often be your only chance to get your rightful share in the estate. Here’s what you need to know about estate disputes.

What should I do if I feel I’ve been treated unfairly?

You have the option to contest the will. It can, however, be a difficult decision to take, especially when you’re already going through the emotional trauma of losing a loved one.

You have the option to submit a Family Provision Application under Part IV of the Succession Act 1981 (Qld) (“the Act”).

What should I do if I am not satisfied with the executor?

If you are unsatisfied with the executor, you have the option to apply to the court to remove the executor. However, such an action might not always be necessary.

For example, if the executor is slow to apply for Probate, you may ask the court to instruct him or her to move to Probate quickly. However, if the executor is unfair or has a conflict of interest then you may have no option but to request for the removal of the executor. But, remember that the final decision lies solely with the court.

Who will incur the costs for estate disputes?

In most cases, the costs are paid by the estate. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. The executor may not be willing to let the estate cover the case. If such is the scenario, you may have to apply to the court to intervene.

Also, if you’re not successful in challenging the will then the court may instruct you to pay the charges.

Many law firms offer no-win-no-fee contracts in estate dispute matters to safeguard your interest. This is very important because you may have to pay heavy fees if you lose a case.

Speak to a lawyer before you take a decision to challenge a will. They will be able to answer all of your questions and help you get your rightful share in the will without putting any financial or emotional burden on you.

Will I have to go to the court for estate disputes?

When we think of challenging a will, most of us imagine having to go to the court and sitting in front of the judges. However, this is not always the case as only about 2% of family law cases go to a trial and most are settled outside of the court.

Out of court settlements not only save time and money but can also benefit all the parties involved. The court typically first offers mediation where all parties meet to reach a mutual decision, which is considered binding.

The lawyers are usually also present at this meeting, which does not have to be held inside a court. However, if one or more parties cannot reach to a settlement at this stage, then the case will go to a trial, where your physical presence may be necessary.

Your lawyer will guide you on how many hearings you’ll have to attend and what else the procedure involves.

When Can I Make a Family Provision Claim for estate disputes?

Ideally, you should move ahead with your application as soon as possible. There are time limits for bringing an application to a court.

Section 41(8) of the Queensland Succession Act 1981 says, “no Family Provision Application may be brought and heard by the court unless it is commenced within 9 months of the deceased’s death.”

You are also required to inform the executor of your intention to make a claim. This must ideally be done in writing, within six months of the death of the estate owner.

You may lose your right to file an application if you do not follow these limitations. However, in some cases, you may have the option to file an application even after the suggested time period has passed, as seen in the case of Vickers v Pickering [2016] QDC 58. However, this may result in unnecessary complications.

This is why we recommend to be quick. If you’re considering filing an application then call a lawyer today to the process started.

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