What to do when you suspect a will was made under suspicious circumstances?

A person’s last will and testament can be challenged on various grounds including revocation by a later will, a family provision claim or on the grounds that the deceased person’s alleged last will and testament is not valid.

The validity of a will can be challenged for the following reasons:

  1. Lack of testamentary capacity;
  2. Lack of knowledge and approval of the contents of the will;
  3. Undue influence; or
  4. Fraud.

What is considered ‘suspicious circumstances’?

The execution of a will raises a presumption that the will maker knew and approved of their will’s contents. However, the Court still needs to be satisfied that there were no circumstances surrounding the execution of the will which support the suspicion that the will in question does not reflect the intentions of the will maker.

Some examples of what is a ‘suspicious circumstance’ include:

  1. An unexplained change from a previous will of the will maker;
  2. A beneficiary who is suddenly disinherited but there has been no estrangement;
  3. The will was prepared by a beneficiary as opposed to the will maker, i.e. A homemade will kit; and
  4. Whether the will maker understood and approved the contents of the will before signing the will.

Where any of the above circumstances exist, it is important that the concerns are raised early and usually before a Grant of Representation is obtained in the estate.

For more information or advice if you suspect a deceased person’s will was made in suspicious circumstances please contact our Wills and Estates solicitors on (07) 3025 9000.