Wills and Estate Lawyers
We are wills and estates lawyers specialising in all matters in relation to probate, contested estates, letters of administration and drafting wills.
Our qualified, professional solicitors are experienced will and estates lawyers.
Do you believe you have been unfairly left out a will?
Have you considered disputing a loved one’s estate?
Are you wanting to contest or challenge a will, but don’t know where to start?
Contact our wills and estates lawyers today.
Our team are skilled in all aspects of will and estate law and can provide you with expert, confidential advice.
Making A Will in Australia
Making a will in Australia is the only way you can ensure your assets are distributed according to your intentions and it is a relatively affordable and straightforward process.
However, it is important to ensure you follow the law so that your will is considered valid and legally binding.
While there are several DIY will kits available in Australia, you should consider talking to a solicitor when making your will to ensure it is valid at the time of your death.
Remember, although DIY will kits are a cheaper option than having a solicitor draw up your will, keep in mind you are writing a legal document which may be deemed invalid if not correctly executed.
When making a will in Australia, we recommend going to specialist wills and estate lawyers in order to discuss your specific needs, and finalise your will.
How long does it take to contest a will
When somebody close to you dies, and you feel you have been unfairly left out of the estate, you will want to know how long does it take to contest a will.
There are several steps involved in contesting a will, and they must be completed within the NSW time limit to be considered by a Court.
Your claim to contest a will must start within 1 year of the date of the deceased passing away.
How long does it take to contest a will depends on the attitudes of the parties and whether or not they are willing to negotiate.
The process normally takes between 3 months to 2 years to finalise. It will take closer to 2 years if the matter goes to court and is heard by a judge.
Not everybody can contest a will and interested parties have to meet specific requirements to make a claim.
Contesting a will can be a complicated legal process with differing laws across Australian states. If you believe you are eligible to make a claim, you should make contact with qualified wills and estate lawyers as quickly as possible
How to Stop Someone Contesting A Will
Most people assume that if they make a legal and valid will, that they do not need to think about how to stop someone contesting a will.
They think that it can’t be contested by family members or other interested parties.
However, this is not the case, with the issue of how to stop someone contesting a will in NSW being a complex one to understand.
The simple answer is that you can’t ever stop someone contesting your will. This is because state and territory legislation across Australia allows ‘eligible’ people to make a claim against an estate if they can establish that they have not been adequately provided for in the deceased’s will.
While eliminating the chance of someone contesting your will is not possible, you can take steps to diminish the likelihood of such a dispute arising. Speaking to expert wills and estates lawyers about how to minimise the liklihood of disputes is a good start to protecting your estate.
When Will Disputes ends up in Court
When will disputes ends up in court, most people have no idea that a judge can essentially re-write someone’s will if they so choose.
Even if the will is determined to be valid and the will-maker was of sound mind when making their will, a judge can go against the wishes of the deceased for several reasons.
In an investigation into challenges to wills in NSW, journalist Richard Ackland noted that ‘[t]here are at least eight instances from last year  in the NSW Supreme Court where judges re-wrote wills and, in some of them, made provision for people who had been specifically excluded by the deceased’.
Our wills and estates lawyers see many people are surprised it is not the role of the court to ensure a fair or equal division of a deceased estate.
As Bryson J noted in the case of Gorton v Parks:
‘The Court’s role is not to reward an applicant, or to distribute the deceased’s estate according to notions of fairness or equity, nor is the purpose of the jurisdiction conferred by the Act the correction of hurt feelings or sense of wrong, felt by the applicant. Rather, the Court’s role is of a specific type and goes no further than the making of “adequate” provision in all the circumstances for the “proper” maintenance, education and advancement in life of an applicant.’
The likelihood of a judge re-writing a will increases if the deceased made several wills throughout their lifetime, or were the head of a blended ‘modern family’ including multiple spouses, stepchildren, or ‘eligible’ grandchildren.
When will disputes end up in court, it can often rip a family apart, causing permanent harm to relationships long-term.
It is advisable to try and settle any will disputes through mediation before reaching court with the assistance of your trusted wills and estates lawyers.
Case Study for wills disputes: The Estate of Bob Hawke
Just two short months after the death of former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, a legal battle was already brewing over his estate.
Upon his death, Hawke’s three children with his first wife, Hazel, each received a $750,000 payout from his estate which includes proceeds from the sale of his $15 million waterfront home in the Sydney suburb of Northbridge. The son of his second wife, Blanche d’Alpuget, received the same amount, despite not being related by blood.
Hawke’s will left the rest of his sizable estate to d’Alpuget, with whom he had a scandalous affair in the mid-90s.
After an alleged tense phone conversation with her father’s second wife, one of Hawke’s daughters, Rosslyn Dillon, 58, has started proceedings for a larger share of Hawke’s fortune.
Dillon, who was left devastated at the news of her father’s passing, is disputing the will on the grounds that it does not provide for her proper maintenance, education or advancement in life, pursuant to Chapter 3 of the Succession Act 2006 (NSW) (Act).
Dillon has employed the services of a well-known probate law firm in Sydney who, if they are unable to settle with d’Alpuget out of court, may have to take the case to the NSW Supreme Court.
While Dillon and Hawke’s other two children were estranged from their stepmother for many years, Rosslyn told ABC’s Australian Story the rift had long been repaired, stating ‘[p]articularly since I lost Mum, we have become extremely close.’
However, if Dillon and d’Alpuget’s probate lawyers can’t come to an amicable arrangement, what work they have done to repair their relationship may be all but lost.
SPEAK TO ONE OF OUR LAWYERS.
We are here to answer all your questions along the way.
Principal of Justice Family Lawyers, Hayder specialises in complex parenting and property family law matters. He is based in Sydney and holds a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Communications from UTS.