>> Jun 20, 2013
When a Will is concerned, things aren't always straight forward. Sometimes there are family members who can be deeply upset if they are left out, some don't receive quite what they thought they would, and in rare cases everything has been left to the dog! There are unfortunately also issues of fraud and forgery, and lots more reasons why someone might want to take professional legal action towards the Will of their loved one for the best interests of everyone.
Contesting, challenging and disputing all seem to be the same thing though, don’t they? When Wills are concerned, these terms lead to different input and outcomes; here we'll look at simplifying what each one entails.
Another word for contest is compete, and this helps our understanding in the context of a will. When you contest a will, it is usually because one or more of the family members of the deceased isn't satisfied. This could be for a number of different reasons, but usually they are unhappy because they feel they haven't been left enough provision, either in general or compared to other members. Family members in this case usually aren't debating the validity of the Will; they understand that there wasn't any fraud or misconduct involved. Instead they are simply looking for their needs to be better met by the agreement in a fair way. It's quite often the most difficult of the three terms, since emotions run high and family feuds can easily develop to complicate matters even more.
Getting a lawyer can help when disputing a will.
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Challenging a Will can be likened to a gentlemen's duel. Rather than contesting because you feel there has been injustice against you, you are challenging the unjust nature of the Will itself.
You are seeking to claim that the Will doesn't carry validity and that it shouldn’t be approved because of certain reasons. Most of the time, a Will would be challenged because one or more members feel that there has been forgery or fraud involved. Those named in the Will might also challenge it if they feel that the maker wasn't in a fit state of mind at the time it was written and completed. There are states of mental wellbeing, caused by disease, drugs, alcohol or age etc. that will limit the maker’s ability to forge a Will with their usual rational mind.
Disputing a Will is a term that covers cases where contesting or challenging aren't the appropriate phrases to use. Most of the time, disputing a Will occurs when the friends or family members aren't sure about the terms. When this happens, the dispute (sometimes called a 'construction case') is taken to a court to help resolve. The court has to do their best, in an unbiased and fair way, to work out what they think the deceased meant in their Will. It is their job to bring clarity where there doesn't seem to be any, and shed some light on grey areas.
Legal documents can be a bore to go through.
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While there are many different reasons and types of dispute for a Will; the other common reason for this term's execution is because there is debate on the distribution of any estate owned by the deceased. There can often be big differences of opinion when it comes to those named, and debate as to the best way to carry out the Will and Testament of their loved one in terms of property. Some might wish to see it sold and divided equally in cash, some may want to live in the estates, or some may do already!
Understanding the different terms regarding the upsetting circumstances involved in a Will can help you make the right decision, and guide you towards the right steps to take next. If you need to do some research this page is worth a read.
Losing a loved one is a painful time, and wisdom, sensitivity and grace are always needed in abundance. When emotions run high and there are legal implications that nobody may have expected or desired, it's important to understand exactly what you're dealing with.
Now that you know the meaning of these terms, hopefully making a wise choice about the right course of action will lead to a just and peaceful resolution.