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How to Make an Estate Claim

An estate claim occurs when a person feels that he or she is entitled to a deceased person's estate. The extract below discusses the minimum requirements you should meet to claim an estate and how you can win the suit.

Who Can Claim an Estate?

An estate can be claimed by:

  1. A person who is left out of the will but feels that he or she should have been a beneficiary. It could be a spouse or a child from a previous marriage.
  2. A beneficiary who feels that his or her share in the will is inadequate.
  3. A beneficiary who feels that the testator acted under duress. For instance, if the individual thinks another beneficiary coerced the testator to favour him or her while writing the will.
  4. A beneficiary who realises the will does not meet the minimum legal requirements. For example, if it does not have witness signatures or if the testator was not mentally sound when writing the will. In other cases, the will may be fake.

How to Claim an Estate

Below is a short guide on how to claim an estate: 

Work With an Experienced Wills and Estates Lawyer

Consult a wills and estates lawyer before lodging your claim. The lawyer will evaluate your situation and determine the possibility of success. For instance, in most Australian states, you cannot dispute a will if the deceased died more than twelve months ago.

The lawyer will also determine the possibility of success. For instance, if you are a beneficiary who is included in the will, you may end up losing a portion of your inheritance if you decide to dispute the will. 

In most cases, the estate will pay your legal costs if the suit is successful. However, if you lose, you may be liable for the defendant's legal fees. As such, most lawyers will only ask you to proceed if they are confident of a positive outcome.

Gathering Evidence

Your lawyer will need sufficient evidence to prove your claim. For instance, you should have a copy of the will you claim to be fake. Alternatively, you should have the original document. If you are excluded in the will, you must provide sufficient evidence to prove that you ought to have been included. A DNA test, for instance, can prove that you were the testator's child. 

The dispute may be settled in court or through an out-of-court process. In an out of court process, the beneficiaries meet and agree to redistribute the assets they inherited to everyone's satisfaction. It is a sure way to avoid expensive legal charges. 

To learn more about estate claims, contact wills and estates lawyer in your area.