Marriage does not last as long as it did when your grandparents were young, with the average marriage currently lasting 12.1 years. As parents split up, it is not uncommon for men and women to find new long-term relationships that become de facto living arrangments or second marriages. The story of Daniel Leverton's de facto and her inheritance of his estate made news headlines recently because his children did not receive the lion's share. Your parents are separated, and this story has you wondering what rights as a child you have if either of your parents doesn't leave you an inheritance you expect. Consider these four questions about contesting a will.
Who can contest a will?
Not every person who knew the deceased can contest the will if they feel they should have received something. The individuals who can challenge is limited to a de facto partner, spouse, parents and children of the person who passed away.
When should the will be contested?
There is a time restriction for the contesting of a will. If you wish to lodge a court claim, you must do so within six months of the start of the estate administration. After this time, the estate is split between the heirs, so contesting the deceased's wishes is too late.
Is contesting a will always successful?
There is no guarantee that just because you are a child of the deceased that contesting the will guarantees success. For example, if you had a falling out with your parent, and did not have contact with them for many years, they may leave you out of their estate based on this lack of relationship. When a parent writes in the will the specific reason why a child or other immediate family member has been excluded, this written evidence is often stronger than the blood bond between you and your parent.
How do you start contesting a will?
Contesting a will starts with an appointment with a lawyer who specialises in this legal field. They will ask you questions about your relationship with your parent, and will then give their opinion on whether you have a case for contesting the will.
If you have concerns about the potential of a Daniel Leverton situation happening, the first step is to talk to your parents about your fears now. However, if you do ever find yourself in this situation, contact an estate lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your situation.