Wills: Top Reasons They Are Contested
The death of a loved one can be an extremely emotionally draining time. This can be further aggravated when disputes come about due to disagreements on how the assets that have been let behind should be accorded to the various beneficiaries. This is especially common when a large estate has been left behind as there will be a wider scope of problems to potentially arise. Below are some of the top reasons why wills are contested.
The beneficiaries cannot come to a consensus
Typically, the estate left behind will comprise investments, freehold properties, personal effects and the family home. Investments and other personal effects are easily divvied about as they can be sold and the money equitably distributed. Where a dispute may arise is when multiple people have been left for the family home. One of the beneficiaries may deem it prudent to retain the property whereas another may want to sell it for profit.
In some cases, the will may state that the beneficiaries have the option of buying each other out in the event one individual once to retain sole ownership of the property. However, in the event that this has not been stipulated, then disagreements about what to do with the family home can be long and drawn out. If the beneficiaries cannot come to an agreement, they may end up contesting the will in court.
Unauthorised transfers occurred while the deceased was alive
When it comes to wills, the testator (which refers to the owner of the will) typically appoints someone that they trust to have power of attorney. This inadvertently makes them the executor of the will. The law does not stipulate whom this responsibility should be tasked to. Therefore, it would be up to the discretion of the testator. In some cases, you may find that the executor of the will carried out unauthorised transfers of assets, which would decrease the value of the estate that remains behind one the testator passes away.
If the beneficiaries of the will believe that there have been suspicious activities in relation to the estate, then it would be well within their rights to contest the will. In this situation, the beneficiaries may have to hire a forensic accountant who would track down what assets have been transferred and whether they were unauthorised or not. It is also quite common to find that the beneficiaries will petition to have to have the executor demoted from their role.