How to Dispute a Will: A Step-by-Step Guide

When a loved one passes away, their will typically outlines how their assets will be distributed. However, there are instances where you might believe that the will doesn’t accurately reflect the wishes of the deceased or fails to provide for you or other beneficiaries adequately. In such situations, you may have the right to dispute the will.

1. Understand the Reasons for Disputing a Will:

Before taking any action, it’s essential to know the valid grounds for challenging a will. These most frequently include:

a) Lack of testamentary capacity: If the person making the will was mentally incapable or didn’t have the legal capacity to create a valid will when they made it, you can contest its validity.

b) Inadequate provision: If you are a spouse, child, or dependent of the deceased and believe that the will didn’t adequately provide for you, you may have a claim for further provision. The NSW Succession Act sets out the categories of people who can make such an application.

2. Gather Evidence and Seek Legal Advice for Disputing A Will:

If you believe that you have a claim, it is important to consult with us straight away.  Strict time limits apply to when you can start legal proceedings.  Generally, you only have 12 months after the passing of the deceased to start Court proceedings. This sounds like a long time but frequently passes remarkably quickly.

To strengthen your case, collect any relevant evidence that supports your claim. This might include medical records or financial documents.

3. Consider Negotiation or Mediation for your Will Dispute:

We will work with you initially to resolve your dispute through negotiations, which may include mediation. These approaches aim to reach a resolution outside of court, saving you time, costs, and potentially maintaining family relationships.

4. Start Legal Proceedings to Dispute A Will:

If negotiations and mediation fails, you may need to initiate legal proceedings to dispute the will. We will help you each step of the way through this process.


Disputing a will can be a complex and emotionally challenging process. It’s crucial to approach it with careful consideration, seek legal advice early, and gather relevant evidence to support your claim. By understanding the valid reasons for disputing a will and following the appropriate legal procedures, you can navigate this potentially difficult terrain and work towards a fair resolution.

Contact Us on (02) 4943 3988 to speak with one of our Will dispute lawyers today. We have years of experience helping people with their family law needs throughout the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Hunter region.

This blog was written by Senior Associate,
 Liz McIntyre
Liz practises in the areas of Family Law, Wills & Estate Planning,
Deceased Estates, Wills disputes and Conveyancing


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