Contesting a Will

We are specialists when it comes to challenging or contesting Wills and estates. This is a growing and complex area of the law and it’s critical to have experts in your corner and the right strategies in place in order to maximise your chances of getting the best outcomes.

Our job is to help square the ledger – to right the wrongs when someone dies. We act both for those who have been wrongfully left out of Wills and also for those who need to protect their inheritance from wrongful attacks.


contesting a will

How we help our clients

  • Advice on who can contest and on what grounds
  • How best to contest the Will or estate
  • The right strategies when it comes to contesting
  • A clear outline of the process
  • Realistic expectations on the scenarios and outcomes
  • Tailored advice given your unique circumstances
  • Guidance and representation through the whole challenge process

Looking to contest a Will or
looking to defend a challenge?

If you feel you’ve been left out of a Will or an estate or have been left with an uneven or unfair portion of an inheritance, we’re here to help with the answers you need and the best strategies for you to help right the wrongs or defend a challenge from the other side.

The most common scenarios we help clients with include:

  • Clients who have been completely or partially excluded
  • Defending a challenge and protecting what you have been left
  • Inequities or inadequacies amongst beneficiaries
  • Issues surrounding defacto, or step-parents and step-children claims
  • Assets that bypass a client and go straight to the next generation
  • Failure to account for historical commercial transactions or current asset valuations
  • Disputes over business and farming interests
  • Questions over the validity of a Will, how mentally fit the Will writer was at the time of writing or undue influence or unconscionable conduct
  • Disabled or special needs beneficiaries claims

Contesting a Will or an estate is a complex and delicate process and you need the right legal advice and the right legal team on side who are experts in this field.

It is increasingly complex given the ever-changing nature of the law and the growing size and complexity of modern-day estates. Society and family dynamics are also more complex these days with a growing number of blended families, dependent adult children and grandchildren, defacto marriages causing great difficulties in how families divide estates. Added to this, the complexities of today’s common business structures and asset pools and the sheer size of the wealth housed in many estates all cause new precedents and benchmarks being set regularly that redefine the legal landscape.

Employing the right strategies is particularly important given the fragility of many family relationships at a time of great stress and loss.

Just as every family is unique, so too is every claim, every beneficiary and every challenge to a Will or an estate. We tailor strategies to your particular needs and have great experience in defending and challenging estates of every type and scale. You cannot apply a simple ‘cookie-cutter’ approach to these matters and they require insight and deep knowledge and sensitivity to pursue the best and most cost effective outcomes.

How to challenge or contest a Will


Can’t find what you are looking for?

How can I avoid my Will being challenged?

Whilst you cannot prevent anyone from challenging (clauses in wills that say if anyone challenges they get nothing simply don’t work) you can take action to hugely reduce the risk of a challenge.

Resolve issues if you can during life, rather than leaving them to explode after death. Be open and frank with your beneficiaries, have meaningful discussions with them about your intentions and their expectations. Bringing beneficiaries into the picture rather than excluding them can go a long way to helping them understand the reasoning and rationale for why your estate planning decisions are the way they are.  These discussions can be hard, sometimes it is a first for a family, but very often. after both sides are able to explain their views, middle ground can often be found to keep everyone satisfied.

We also encourage clients to have the discussion with us about updating their Will and estate planning every three years or so, or sooner if there is a material event. Out of date Wills are  not only much more likely to be challenged, but they are also much less likely to hold up to that challenge than a fresh Will.

Claims and disputes often arise simply out of disappointment and jealousy, and the shock of discovery of inequality only when they read the Will for the first time after a death.  That shock can be significantly dampened by letting beneficiaries know the contents in advance, giving them much more time to digest and come to terms with its effects.

We can also work with you to consider how to deal with your assets in ways that can actually prevent challenges to your estate, which can be by restructuring your asset pool.  It matters greatly what way you own certain assets and there are clever strategies to change ownership, or cause assets to be held in ways that can actively prevent any challenge. 

We can also best advise on how your superannuation will be treated, as this is a non-estate asset that needs to be managed separately, and of course the transfer of assets into Trusts which is one of the most powerful mechanisms to employ to quarantine assets from attack.  Trust assets don’t fall into the Will, so they are outside it and not challengeable (at least in WA). In short, there are plenty of ways to make sure that certain family members won’t be able to challenge your estate:  however, some of these strategies come at a cost, with tax and stamp duty consequences.

At the end of the day, the strength and quality of the Will itself is obviously one of the keys to successful succession.  The right strategies, conversations and the right legal advice will be the smartest thing you’ll ever do when it comes to your legacy, and the best defence in terms of protecting against any form of challenge.

Can my Will be watertight?

A common request from our clients is to make their Will ‘watertight.’ Unfortunately, no Will can ever be watertight, but what we can do is provide you with a Will that is well written and well considered to meet your circumstances and desired outcomes, and write it in such a way as to significantly minimise the appetite for, and likelihood of a challenge.
When we are writing your Will we will encourage you to be the ‘the wise and just testator,’ not the ‘fond and foolish one’. We’ll help you consider carefully all those potential claimants and make proper provision for them. This is different for everyone and also changes over time.
If you are cutting someone out who you think may challenge, we’ll help you take extra precautions. In these cases some of the Wills we write go in to some detail to set out the reasons why they are an unworthy candidate for your estate. There are also cases where clients have separate statutory declarations drawn up where they swear to the truth of the situation and have those statutory declarations kept with the original Will.
We encourage all our clients to have the discussion with us about updating their Will and estate planning every three years or so, or sooner if there is a material event as an old Will has much less chance of resisting challenge than a fresh one.
Resolve issues if you can during life, rather than leaving them to explode after death. Be open and frank with your beneficiaries, have meaningful adult discussions with them about your intentions and their expectations, often they simply don’t match, but after both sides are able to explain their views, middle ground can often be found to keep everyone satisfied.
Ensure you obtain legal advice from a lawyer with strong knowledge of and experience within this area of the law. Estates law has become increasingly complicated over the last decade or so and it’s important to have someone on your side who specialises in Wills and estates and is up to date with the latest precedents, trends, cases and legislation.

Book your free 15 min consultation

Discussing your situation over the phone is often the best way to start, and we’re pleased to offer all new and existing clients a free 15 minute phone consultation for every new matter. It’s a great opportunity to let us know more about the assistance you’re looking for, clarify your situation and walk you through how best we can help and what’s involved.

Fill in your details below