2 Strategies To Deter Will Contestation

Posted on: 19 August 2016

Many people die without leaving behind a will. Many of those who create a will during their lifetime are often concerned about the possibility of contestation upon their demise. This would mean that their wishes as expressed in the will document might not be respected.

There's no full-proof way to ensure that your will won't be contested. However, there are certain things you can do to prevent the likelihood that someone will contest your will or that they will be successful if they do. Read along.

Have A Less Valuable Estate

As unfortunate as it might sound, the likelihood that someone will contest your will is likely to be higher as the value of the estate in the will increases. If the value of the estate covered is lower, it might not be financially viable for an interested party to contest the will. You can de-value the estate covered under the will in various ways. These include, but they're not limited to, the following:

  • Joint ownership of property/bank accounts: assets owned jointly are automatically transferred to the joint owner upon your demise and you wouldn't have to include these assets in your will
  • Setting up living trusts for some of your most valuable assets
  • Invest in life insurance, since such benefits don't have to be in your will

However, you should get professional legal advice before you choose to adopt any of the strategies mentioned above. It's important to point out that an interested party might still be able to contest your will for assets not in certain states (e.g. New South Wales). In many other Australian states, assets not covered by the will are not eligible for contestation.

Write A Letter Of Wishes

You might be worried about contestation because you intend to lock out a potential beneficiary of your estate from the will. You can almost be assured that this person will try to challenge the will in court on grounds of being locked out. That's why you need to draft a "letter of wishes" when you're drafting the will. This letter is a legally recognized document that should explain your reasons for leaving the person out of the will and your reasons for dividing your estate in the manner that you did.

There's no guarantee that the letter will suffice to disqualify the contestation. However, your estate lawyer should have an easier time defending the will with this document in hand.


Selling my house to the kids

I am getting older and the family house is a bit too much for me these days. My daughter has offered to buy the family house from me and will let me continue to live in the granny flat. I want to make sure it's all legal and doesn't impact on my arrangements in my will. I know that there are a lot of older people in the same position as me: looking to keep the house in the family, seeking extra cash, and trying to avoid legal issues later. This blog has the tips on how to make sure the arrangement is legal and suits everyone.