Unfortunately the sadness of losing a loved one can be exacerbated by disputes over the assets they leave behind.
Sometimes there are arguments over whether a Will is genuine, whether pressure was placed on the person to give certain gifts in their Will, or even whether the person had legal capacity to understand what they were doing when they made their Will. Disputes also arise where someone has made verbal promises to friends and family before they died, but those promises do not match up with the terms of their Will. Someone may have been expecting to receive a gift from a relative, but be surprised and disappointed to learn that there is no mention of them in the Will.
Disputes can also arise about who should be responsible to manage the assets of the deceased person. Sometimes the person who is named as executor in the Will is criticised for not doing their job properly, or for being too slow, or for showing favouritism. Sometimes relatives are accused of stealing from the house of the deceased. From time to time we also see situations where a person claims that the deceased person gifted expensive items to them in the days before they died, such as expensive artworks or large sums of cash.
In these very situations it is important to work towards compromise and resolution. The Supreme Court of New South Wales has jurisdiction to deal with disputes over deceased estates and Wills. However, the legal costs involved are usually very substantial. If a dispute over a Will or an estate carries on too long, and involves the complication and expense of preparing evidence for a hearing at court, a large portion of the estate can be lost to everyone in legal fees.
Our firm has decades of experience dealing with disputes over deceased estates. Our focus is always on trying to find a financially sensible resolution, and this usually involves helping to navigate the parties to look beyond emotions and hurt feelings to what is the most practical outcome. If you or your family are caught up in a dispute over a deceased estate, we would be very happy to give you a free 15 minute case assessment to see if we can assist you in resolving your family situation.