When the last will is not the last word: What to do when a will is contested.

By July 5, 2017Articles

 “If you want know what people are really like, see how they behave when money is involved”. The origin of this specific quote is not known, but the thinking behind it has been with mankind since people could own anything. And nothing changes when there is a death involved.

It is frequently reported how for example a previous wife inherits everything because the will was never updated or children are excluded from inheriting because of the influence of a new husband. Or even children fighting amongst themselves over verbal promises made in confidence, but not reflected in the will.

“Family feuds, allegations of fraud and greed are all reasons for wills to be contested,” says Ruann Kruger of Kruger & Co Incorporated. “When money is involved, people tend to fight. In many instances some family member, who is not named in a deceased person’s will, or excluded therefrom, may contest it. “They may allege that there is a later version of the will that should rank above any previous wills. Or in some cases someone feels that the will is being interpreted incorrectly by the executor.”

The will is the strongest document to adhere to the last wishes of a person and the Master of the High Court will always accept the latest will on condition that it complies with all the necessary requirements. Kruger says that is why it is advisable that your loved ones are informed of the whereabouts of your latest will, to curb this kind of fighting.

“But if there is a dispute on the legitimacy of a will, parties may have to approach the court to consider the disputes, and may delay the finalisation of the specific estate,” he says.

Kruger says that if all the beneficiaries or the last will and testament agree to vary or redistribute some of the assets, they may enter into a redistribution agreement amongst them.

For conflict resolution over an existing will or to update your current will in order to avoid putting your loved ones in a difficult situation, contact us.