Will stepfather have final say?

Can a stepfather’s new will, drawn up after the death of his wife – excluding her children from any inheritance in favour of the stepfather’s only child – be contested? Estate planning lawyer Rod Cunich has the answer.

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Q. Brent*
My wife’s mother and stepfather each had a will leaving their assets to one other. They were married for over 20 years. When my wife’s mother passed away, the stepfather made a new will and left everything to his only son. My wife and her siblings were left out altogether. Can this be contested when he passes away?

A. Brent, unfortunately, this scenario occurs quite often and in most situations the children end up missing out. It is difficult to challenge a will in these circumstances unless your wife and her siblings can prove there was an agreement between their mother and stepfather that on the death of the last of them the estate would be divided between children and stepchildren in a particular way. 

However, you will need to see a ‘family provisions’ legal expert who can review all the circumstances and advise if your wife and her siblings have any chance of success and, if so, when to commence action. 

It would be best to find out now so you know what is possible and not miss an opportunity that may be there. If there is no opportunity, then at least your wife and her siblings will know and not stress over an impossible outcome. 

* Not his real name

Rod Cunich is a lawyer with more than 30 years’ experience who specialises in estate planning. If you have a question for Rod, simply email it to [email protected]

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Disclaimer: This information has been provided by Rod Cunich and should be considered general in nature – legal advice should be sought.

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