When a loved one passes away, it goes without saying that his or her belongings, material possessions, assets, and properties are set to be distributed to his or her family members or anyone who was close to them as they lived. Beneficiaries are listed in a legal document called a will, which is often written and acknowledged in the presence of inheritance lawyers. But wills are not often iron clad. In fact, will disputes occur when beneficiaries believe there are flaws in a will or if they are unfairly left out of or unaccounted for in a will. If you are contesting a will because you believe you’ve been unfairly left out of it, you must be aware of the rights of inheritance and the estate laws that govern your state. Estate lawyers in Melbourne are in the best position to assist you in making your claim. But what do you need to know about rights of inheritance and what role it plays in will disputes?


Rights of Inheritance: Will disputes as a result of intestacy

If a person dies without a will, are will disputes still possible? According to the New South Wales State Library, if an individual leaves behind no will to administer his estate when he dies, eligible relatives will inherit the estate. It is only when one passes and leaves behind no eligible relatives that the estate will then be passed on to the State. However, it is in the discretion of the State whether or not it will provide for any dependents of the deceased or individuals who are expected to be provided for if the person had written a will. In this case, inheritance lawyers can provide ample guidance and advice on how to proceed in dealing with representatives of the State.


Inheritance lawyers can aid in determining eligible relatives in the case of intestacy.

As in cases where a testator leaves a will behind when he passes, it is also best to enlist the professional services of estate lawyers in Melbourne if you find that your loved one did not write a will. Inheritance lawyers can provide legal counsel on the next steps in filing a claim, especially in cases of intestacy. According to New South Wales State Library, eligible relatives often fall under two main categories—spouses and other relatives. Note that spouses are defined as the individual who was married to the deceased immediately before the death or an individual who was in in a domestic partnership immediately before the death.


A spouse is often the main primary eligible relative of the deceased in cases of intestacy.

In Australia, the Succession Act reads that a deceased person’s spouse is entitled to the entire estate if she or he is left behind and has no children. He or she is also entitled to the entire estate even if she shares children with the deceased. However, if the deceased has a spouse and children that is not his or hers, the spouse will be entitled to the deceased’s personal effects, a statutory legacy of $350,000 with adjustments, and half of the remaining estate, if any. Inheritance lawyers can provide more insights on the Succession Act and other estate laws that are applicable to your case, depending on where you live.


An estate may be divided among spouses in equal shares.

The Succession Act determines the shares of an estate to be divided among multiple spouses of the deceased in cases of intestacy. In fact, if the deceased had left behind more than one spouse and their children, they will also inherit the entire estate in portions, as determined by the Succession Act. The equal division of an estate is done only if certain conditions are satisfied. The estate will also be divided among spouses only in accordance with a written agreement and in accordance with an order of the court. Because will disputes can possibly result from the division of an estate, it is best to be represented by an inheritance lawyer in times like these. If you are a spouse or former spouse of a deceased among several, you must seek legal counsel from estate lawyers in Melbourne to find out how the Succession Act affects you as a beneficiary.


De facto partners are also entitled to a share of the estate.

In cases of intestacy, de facto partners may also receive a portion of the estate, if they are able to provide details of the relationship. Such details that need to be proven are the duration of the relationship, nature and extent of common residence, degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and ownership, use, and acquisition of property, among others. In such cases, de facto partners can opt to seek legal counsel from estate lawyers in Melbourne to determine how the Relationships Register Act 2010 plays a role in their case.


The estate can also be divided among other eligible relatives, if there are no spouses.

In Australia, legitimate and eligible relatives include children, parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins, in that particular order. Note that each relation must be exhausted and checked for eligibility before moving down the list. In the case of the entitlement of children, there are specific regulations to follow when it comes to the distribution of the estate. Children will only share the estate equally if the deceased did not leave a living spouse. Additionally, spouses inherit the estate despite having children with the deceased. However, if the deceased has children who are not the children of the living spouse, they will get a portion of the estate after the living spouse has been provided for. Inheritance lawyers are often tasked to help determine eligibility, especially in cases of will disputes.


If you would like to seek legal counsel on contesting a will or are interested in pursuing will disputes, get in touch with Hentys Lawyers. Our team of professional estate law specialists have years of experience providing effective solutions for will disputes. We operate on a “No win, no fee” basis to ensure that we arrive at a satisfactory result. Get in touch at willcontesting.com.au today.