Can Katy contest her parents’ 20-year-old will?

Lawyer Rod Cunich reveals whether it’s too late.

Can Katy contest 20-year-old will?

Twenty years ago, Katy’s parents left the family home to just one of her siblings. Estate planning lawyer Rod Cunich explains whether she can contest the will.


Q. Katy:
More than 20 years ago, my parents left the family home – the only asset – to one child. There were other siblings and grandchildren but the will was not contested at the time. When that beneficiary passes, it is assumed the property will pass on to the child of that beneficiary. On passing, can the will of the original beneficiary be contested in relation to the original family home so that the children of all the siblings can benefit?


A: I’m afraid that it is extremely unlikely. Generally speaking, too much time has passed and the claim is likely to be statute barred. That said, I’d recommend you speak to a specialist litigation lawyer as the circumstances surrounding the gift to the current owner may be tainted with undue influence, duress or other conduct that may taint the current owner’s ownership and extend the normal time limitations. I’d move fast, however, because any glimmer of hope (and it is a small glimmer) will likely die along with the current owner.


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


    Disclaimer: This information has been provided by Rod Cunich and should be considered general in nature. Seek legal advice before acting on this information.


    To make a comment, please register or login
    28th Aug 2018
    Forget it unless you want to make the lawyers rich
    28th Aug 2018
    Your parents left their house to the person of their choice, after 20 years for whatever reason, greed seems to take the podium, you now wish to challenge their last request to the distribution of their property. It seems evident why they did not leave it to you. I find it an absolute disgrace these days that Judges up turning people's Wills and last requests for any reasons, it's was their money, their property, people should be able to distribute it, leave it to whoever or whatever they wish. Leave it alone, live your life as they lived their's. Respect their request. Jacka.
    Pass the Ductape
    1st Sep 2018
    Spot on Jacka!
    28th Aug 2018
    Circumstances where coercion - of dearly departed - can be established aside, I'd say it's high time anyone choosing to contest a will either deposits a bond or (at a minimum) pays their own cost of litigation, win, lose or draw.
    I seriously wonder why it is that any person would sit on their hands for 2 decades yet now expects to hold em both out for a backhander - must be on the skids.
    4th Feb 2019
    Or maybe over time Katy has realised she was duped by this other sibling. Katy might have been very young. Maybe the heir sibling had to care for the parents & younger siblings? We don't know the reason(s) why only one sibling inherited.

    Maybe the parents were old-fashioned & thought the boy should inherit everything & the girls should just get married?

    I agree with Sundays, though, regarding greedy lawyers. Even if you won, you might end up with nothing. That's their modus operandi - drag it out for as long as the money pays all the legal fees. They call it "no win, no pay", which means they won't take on your case unless there's money in it for themselves.

    But most importantly, think about the personal angst & bad feelings everyone in your family would have to endure in a legal case (again, not the lawyers! - they're laughing all the way to the bank).
    Unless you're really in a bad financial situation, I suggest you concentrate on keeping your job & staying as well as you can. Learn to meditate then speak to a counsellor & try to let it go. Try doing something really positive for yourself, as a reward for letting it go. Then you'll be the winner.

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