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The Lowdown on Estate Mediation: What You Should Know

After the passing of a loved one, estate mediation is often used to settle disputes regarding the will. This can be a process fraught with emotional stress as people struggle to deal with tension in their closest relationships.

It is important to be aware of what to expect during the process as well as what you can do to get a good outcome. It is advisable to seek legal advice in order to protect yourself and be informed as to what actions you should take.

This article shares the basics of what you need to know about the process.

Why are wills challenged, anyway?

There are two main reasons why a person might challenge a will, which results in the need to attend estate mediation. These are:

  1. Challenging a will’s validity.
  2. Family Provision Claims.

The latter is the most common reason why people challenge a will. It is used when a person feels like they didn’t get their fair share or were left out. It is often made by step children. However, sometimes estate mediation takes place because a will is believed to be invalid. There are a number of requirements that must be met in order to prove a will is invalid, such as a proven lack of testamentary capacity or proof that the document has been illegally altered since it was originally made.

The role/s of executor/s

If you were nominated to be an executor, it is your job to defend the testator if a person decides to challenge their will. This means that during estate mediation you’ll need to put their best interests and wishes first. This can be a tricky process, which is why getting legal support is highly recommended.

Making a Family Provision Claim

A Family Provision Claim can be made if an eligible individual such as a child hasn’t been properly catered for in a will, as necessary by law. If you are considering making such a claim, you’ll need to consider the following:

  1. Are you considered “eligible” under the Family Provision Act?
  2. What is your case for challenging the will?
  3. Are you within the time frame for challenging the will?
  4. What evidence do you have for challenging it successfully?

Challenging the validity of a will

If you want to contest a will’s validity and go to estate mediation, you’ll need to determine the following:

  1. Are you eligible to do so?
  2. What grounds do you have to do so?
  3. Are you with in the time frame to do so?
  4. What evidence do you have?

Hiring a lawyer

For a faster and generally more effective outcome, you might want to consider hiring a specialist solicitor in the field to support you during estate mediation. Given that the outcome will eventually be legally binding, it’s important to get it done right. An experienced solicitor can help you navigate the complex process and reach a solution. They are able to guide you on:

  1. The strength of your case.
  2. What the judge will be looking for.
  3. How the affidavit must be prepared.
  4. How to accumulate evidence.
  5. What your ideal outcome looks like.

Fees and pricing

How much you end up paying for estate mediation depends on the particular provider you choose. Public providers usually offer free or reduced rate services to those who are financially in need. Private providers tend to set their own prices, so you’ll have to check with each specific provider to find out their fees. Cheap or free lawyer services may also be available to you.