If you had a relationship with the testator of a will, you might be particularly aggrieved to have been left out or inadequately cared for within the final document. If so, does that mean that you can contest this situation? The answer is quite complicated, and much will depend on yourself, the nature of your relationship and several other factors. What do you need to take into account before you take any action?
Laws May Vary
To begin with, you will need to check the laws of each individual state or territory for the specific rules in your case. In most situations, a family member or friend can contest the will under the "family provision" section, but the process can be involved, and you will need to discuss it with a lawyer to estimate your general sense of success.
Establishing a Financial Case
Most often, your financial situation will be the overriding factor. Start by looking at your economic resources and assessing your needs both now and in the future. If you are responsible for somebody else who may cohabit with you, you might also have to take their financial circumstances into account.
Looking after the Testator
What was the nature of your relationship with the deceased, as you may have contributed to their welfare in one way or another? While you may not have contributed financially in direct terms, you may have been a companion or have helped with household chores and the like. This may be particularly important in helping to establish your case and ensuring that the deceased was reliant on you to a certain extent.
Continuation of Support
On the other hand, the deceased may have been responsible for looking after you prior to their death, either in whole or in part. Therefore, you may be able to assert that you were so reliant on this help that you will have trouble looking after yourself now. Consequently, you may have been surprised to see that you were not included in the will and would like to contest it on that basis.
Looking for More
Even if the testator did leave you a certain amount of money, this does not stop you from contesting the will if you think that it should be more. If you are successful, then you may be able to get further provision from the estate, but you will need to put forward a strong and detailed case.
To stand the best chance of success, always work with an experienced family lawyer who has contested wills before. They will go through all the steps necessary and discuss the information that you need to provide.