Sibling Rivalry: Can You Contest the Will of Your Parents?

Not everyone can challenge a will in NSW. The probate laws state that only “interested persons” are able to challenge a will, which include spouses, heirs, beneficiaries, creditors, children, and relatives. This means that only those people who have a solid “standing” have the right to contest a will.

The chilling thing about sibling disputes over an inheritance is that it can lead to a dreadful family rift as tensions emerge. While it is possible to challenge a will, you must understand that any person is entitled to leave their assets and estate to whoever they want to, which is overruled by any verbal promises the deceased may have previously made. Everyone has the right to exclude people as beneficiaries such as their children or spouse, but interested persons have an equal right to contest a will.

Challenging a will can be one of the most complicated areas of law. For instance, business contracts are grounded in facts. A will, on the other hand, is grounded in personal decision. It is inevitable to have people getting upset because of an unfair will. This is particularly common among families and would-be beneficiaries.

Can a Step-Child Contest a Will?

The law treats a step child as a child as far as contesting a will is concerned. However, stepchildren are not automatically eligible and will need to prove that they were once dependent of their step parent and lived under one roof. This can be difficult to prove especially if the marriage occurred late in their parents’ lives.

Under the law, you do not cease to be the step child of a step parent even after the passing of your parent. However, if your parent divorces your step parent, you are no longer considered a step child and will not be eligible to contest a will.

Disinheriting Minor Children and Spouses

Minor children and spouses are protected by the law. Assuming that money is available, whatever financial support they are entitled to receive under state law, they will get regardless of the will of the deceased.

When the name of a child is not mentioned in the will, it is often considered by the court as a mistake or inability to update the document. The court will not keep people from getting inheritance they deserve.

Disinheriting Adult Children

It may be cruel to disinherit a child but people have reasons for doing so. At times, the parents think that the adult child is well off and does not need inheritance. Other times, there is no longer a relationship between the child and the parent.

There comes a time when the role of a parent and a child are reversed and the child takes on the responsibility for taking care of his or her parents. The parent may feel indebted to his or her child and as a result, fails to mention the other children in his will. Depending on the situation, the other children have the right to contest the will of the parent.