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What Happens If a Sibling Contests a Will?

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If your sibling feels unhappy or disappointed by the outcome of the will, or if they feel the will has been unfair for any legal reason, then they may dispute it. Sibling contests over a parent’s will can be stressful times for those involved, and so it is best to know what will happen if your sibling does decide to contest a will.

Why Can Siblings Contest a Will?

Although siblings may decide to contest a will for a number of personal reasons, they must fall under the legal grounds for will disputes. There are four main reasons that anyone can contest a will. The first of these is the will’s validity; if the sibling does not believe that the will has been signed or witnessed properly, or if they believe that the will has been forged in any way, they can choose to contest its contents. Another reason they may contest the will is if it is found that your parents did not have the mental capacity to sign or have knowledge of the contents of the will, such as if they were in the hospital or under the care of a medical professional. They can also dispute the will if they believe that there has not been adequate financial provision for them or if they can prove your parent gave them financial support. Additionally, they may be able to contest a will if they believe the deceased had undue influence from a beneficiary, or that they were purposefully turned against a particular person during the process of writing the will.

Will They Seek Legal Advice?

It is likely that your sibling will decide to seek legal advice to determine if their case is strong enough, the evidence that they will need, and the next steps of the case. If you believe that you have grounds to contest a will, or if your sibling has decided to contest a will, can help to settle your case efficiently and as quickly as possible with the best outcome for you. The quicker the case is settled, the more likely that you will be able to maintain family ties with your opposition.

What Happens?

Most legal teams will attempt to settle cases without going to court, either through negotiation or mediation. This will include having a third party involved in your discussions to resolve underlying issues, help to compromise and provide support to both parties. They may also take out a caveat to ensure that the assets are not distributed before the case is settled. If discussions fail, then an official claim will be made to court, and the case may be subject to a lengthy and expensive court battle. The court will look at their dependency on the deceased, whether assets were expected and any family that they support, for example. Although the number of contested wills are rising, success rates are low but have increased in recent years. If successful, the will will be discarded, an earlier will will become valid, or the assets will be distributed through the court’s judgement.

Although sibling contests over a will can be lengthy and upsetting, being prepared for all possible outcomes will allow you to take the correct measures to protect yourself whilst also maintaining string family ties after the dispute has been resolved.

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