Once you have established that a) you are eligible to make a family provision claim and b) you are within the time limits, the next step in challenging a will is to obtain clarity about the terms of the will and the assets and liabilities of the estate.
Have you seen the will? Do you have a copy? Who is the executor named in it? Who are the other beneficiaries? Has the executor made an application for a grant of probate?
Also, what are the assets and liabilities of the estate and what are their nature? Was there property, superannuation, savings? Did the deceased own a business, shares, other investments? Were the assets held solely or jointly? Did he or she have debts?
In a claim for family provision it is ultimately the executor's duty to disclose these details. But in the early stages it is still helpful if you have at least a rough idea of what you're dealing with. If you have been out of touch with the deceased and genuinely have no idea as to what the estate comprises often a letter from your solicitor to the estate solicitor is sufficient to obtain some particulars. Call us on 1800 720 211 if we can help you do this.
If you haven't seen a copy of the will it is important that you obtain one. The first step is to simply ask the executor for a copy. If he or she won't oblige there are other steps that can be taken, see: How Do I Get a Copy of the Will?
If you don't know who the executor is, consider asking close friends and relatives and the deceased's lawyer. If you are still unable to find a will you need to consider: What if There is No Will?
It is important to know who the deceased left his or her estate to, whether there are any specific bequests and any other general information that could turn out to be relevant to your claim for family provision. Importantly, you need to know who your competitors are. That is, who is the person or persons that the deceased has favoured over you in their will?
Many of our will dispute clients have a rough idea how much money a deceased person had but few know for sure. Some know nothing at all. Finding out exactly what is in the estate isn't always straightforward but the first step in finding out is to write to the executor's solicitors. Call us on 1800 720 211 if we can help you with this step.
If you know you are not in the will, you know who is in the will and you know roughly how much money is in the estate the next step in considering a will dispute claim is your need for provision.