Contesting estates – lessons from recent trends

What do the late trio Peter Brock, Bart Cummings and Reg Grundy have in common? Apart from being household names, each of these famous Australians had their estates contested by surviving family members.

Disputes over wills is perhaps the fastest growing area of legal practice in Australia. A recent article in The Australian reported that more than 50 percent of wills are now being contested in court.

It seems changing family dynamics are at play. With divorce now more common, second marriages can create fertile ground for dispute between spouses and children from a previous relationship. The fragmentation of the traditional family unit leads to members being on different pages when it comes to accepting the wishes of the deceased.

Research conducted by the University of Queensland has shown that aggrieved parties are largely justified in making a legal claim. The study found that three in four actions brought before a court were successful.

The lessons from these recent trends are two-fold:

  1. If you feel you deserve more, the odds are that you will have a case.
  2. If you already have a will and want to prevent it from being contested, you need to have it reviewed and updated regularly to reflect any changes in your living circumstances or personal wealth.

If you require advice about contesting an estate, or updating your will, please contact Darrell Pannowitz or Dominic Tonkin from our Estates Litigation team on 02 4341 2355.


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