Family Forum: Contesting a Will

Seeking help for a disputed will.

QUESTION:

I had been living with my partner for more than a decade when he died. I gave up my nursing career to help in his business and then care for him when he contracted cancer. After six years, he passed away and the stepdaughter was left with the majority of a large estate. I got permission to stay on the property, which I have to maintain on the aged pension. I have contested the will, but my lawyer can get no information from the estate lawyer. It has been three years and I feel I am the unpaid caretaker of the 4.8ha property. What rights do I have?

ANSWER:

The panel acknowledges the distress this situation is causing you. It may be helpful to talk to a professional counsellor, to work through these emotions and find peace of mind.

The lawyer on the panel notes that you have contested the will of your late partner. It is assumed therefore that proceedings in court have started. If such proceedings have not commenced, you may need to take action promptly.

If your case is already in court, your lawyer should be able to seek orders and directions from the court if they are not able to get appropriate information from the estate lawyer. The executor is under a legal obligation to provide information to you if they are aware of your claim or your intention to make a claim.

Various time limits apply in cases such as yours. It is important that these are explained to you. Talk with your lawyers about court order or directions to be obtained.

As the partner of the deceased, you may be able to seek further provision from his estate under the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act.

The panel feels that you might benefit from a second opinion on your position.

The Law Society of South Australia (hyperlink: lawsocietysa.asn.au) provides a referral service for lawyers who practice in the area of deceased estates. They can be contacted on 8229 0200. It is recommended that you seek such advice as soon as possible.

Submit Your Questions

Family Forum is a panel of general practitioners, medical specialists, lawyers, therapeutic and financial counsellors to discuss each letter before the appropriate professional answers it. The panel is appointed by Relationships Australia SA.

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Fill out the form below or send questions to Family Forum, The Advertiser, 31 Waymouth St, Adelaide 5000.

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Use this form to submit a question to the Family Forum panel.


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