In the event of a dispute about the validity or terms of a Will, it is important to take a realistic attitude toward the issue and in appropriate circumstances, seek a compromise. If the dispute cannot be resolved by negotiation, proceedings may have to be commenced in the Supreme or District Courts. If there is a successful challenge to the Will, the estate usually pays the costs associated with the proceedings. It is therefore doubly important for the estate to take a realistic approach to negotiations. During the course of proceedings the Court invariably orders the parties to attend for mediation which often results in a negotiated settlement.
These disputes usually arise where a close relative of the deceased, such as spouse or child, is either left out of the Will completely, or given, what they consider to be, too small a share of the estate. Only certain categories of people are entitled to contest a Will.
This is a complex area of Law, and the assistance of a solicitor should be sought immediately that a dispute arises. It is essential to bear in mind that any application seeking to challenge a Will, must be made within 12 months of the date of the deceased’s death.