It’s not a rare scenario to see people going to court contesting a will made by their family members, who can either be their spouse, their parent or even a sibling. This exclusion from the testator’s will may be due to some mistake on the testator’s part, or an intentional exclusion made by the testator. It’s not the end of the world for dependants who get excluded from a will because they can seek the assistance of the Probate Court under the Inheritance Act or Inheritance (Family Provision)Act. And if this kind of scenario happens to your or your family, here is what you can do to fight for your rights.
Who Can Contest A Will?
Before you start preparing for a court battle, you have to first know if you can actually appeal to probate court regarding your exclusion. According to the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act, these are the following persons who can make an appeal to probate court with regards to contesting a will.
- He or she must be a dependant – by this, it means that the person making the appeal must be a spouse, a daughter or son of the deceased.
- He or she must not be an illegitimate child – in the case of being a child of the deceased, he or she must not be an illegitimate child. According to the law of inheritance, illegitimate children are not entitled to claim anything from their parents’ estate.
What Are The Conditions For Contesting A Will?
Under the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act, there are essentially two requirements in order for you to apply for assistance. Should you meet the two conditions below, then you can proceed to the process of appealing against the testator’s will.
- You have to be dependant.
- The testator (either your husband or your mother/father) has failed, objectively, to make reasonable and necessary provision for you.
Being A Dependant
Okay, let’s say that you are a dependant. If you are a child of the deceased note that there are other requirements for a child to make an appeal to the probate court.
- The criteria for a Son:
- He must be an infant, someone below the age of twenty-one.
- Or someone who has a mental or physical disability
- Or he is incapable of maintaining himself.
- The criteria for a Daughter:
- She must not be married
- Or she has a mental or physical disability
- Or she is incapable of maintaining herself
No such requirements are required of spouses of the deceased.
Failure To Provide Provisions
As a spouse of the deceased, you are entitled to get two-thirds of the income of your deceased spouse’s net estate. Should he or she fail to comply with this condition, you can make the appeal to the court to demand provision. The High Court can even intervene on your behalf if you are unable to make the appeal.
Same is the situation for children of the deceased if it is found that the testator has failed to provide provisions for his children who are below the legal age or who are incapable of supporting themselves. In the case of children of divorced parents, the legal guardians let say the mother or the father can make an appeal on their behalf.
How to Contest A Will If You Don’t Meet the Conditions?
Contesting a will if you do not meet the conditions is hard or even impossible. Take the following cases as an example.
AOS vs Estate of AOT
Here the wife made an appeal to the High Court asking for maintenance under the IFPA, but her deceased spouse had already given substantial gifts that generated a monthly income, from being to rented, that was enough to support the wife. The court of appeals decided that there would be no additional financial provision to be given to the appellant (the wife).
AGG vs Estate of AAH
In this case, the mother of two illegitimate daughters made an appeal to the High Court asking for assistance for her two children. The deceased had died intestate and had left behind a lawful wife and four legitimate daughters. The appeal made by the mother was unsuccessful due to her children being illegitimate. According to Singapore’s law of inheritance, illegitimate children are not entitled to inherit anything from a deceased estate.
Contesting a will can be easy if you meet the conditions stated above but for people who do not fall into these categories, such a battle is an impossible and almost futile task. For this said reason, creating an estate plan should be based on all fairness and not prejudice. Failing to do so will end up in your name being remembered in history as a person who was unable to provide for his dependants.
Want to learn more about estate planning and will-making? Give us a call. You can also choose to grab a copy of the book “The Rockwills Guide to Succession and Trusts in Wealth Management” by clicking the link https://www.rockwills.com.sg/book_purchase.aspx