The Clock is Ticking: A Deep Dive into the Time Limit to Contest a Will

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In Queensland (QLD), if you intend to contest a will, the time frame is relatively strict. You must give notice of your intention to challenge the will within six months of the deceased’s death date through Family Provision Application (FPA).

After notifying, you have a further nine months from the date of death to commence your claim in court.

However, circumstances can sometimes allow for extensions, but it’s crucial to act promptly and seek legal advice if you’re considering contesting a will in QLD.

Why is There a Time Limit to Contest a Will?

There are a few reasons why there is a time limit to challenge a will in Queensland.

  • To provide certainty for beneficiaries. Without a time limit, beneficiaries would be constantly worried about their inheritance being challenged. The time limit includes confidence that, after a certain period, the will is final and cannot be questioned.
  • To protect the estate from unnecessary delay. Without a time limit, beneficiaries could challenge will years or even decades after the testator’s death. This could cause undue delay and expense in administering the estate.
  • To prevent stale claims. Over time, memories fade, and evidence becomes lost. This makes it more difficult to prove that a will is invalid. The time limit helps prevent stale claims based on unreliable evidence.

The time limit to challenge a will in Queensland is six months from death. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule.

For example, if the challenger was under 18 years old at the time of death, they have until six months after their 18th birthday to challenge the will.

If you are considering challenging a will, speaking to an experienced lawyer as soon as possible is essential.

Our will dispute lawyers can advise you on whether you have a valid claim and whether you are likely to succeed.

What Happens If I Miss the Deadline to Contest the Will?

If you miss the deadline to contest a will in Queensland (QLD), you typically lose the automatic right to challenge it.

However, you can still apply to the court for permission to file your claim out of time.

The court will consider various factors before granting an extension, such as the reason for the delay, any disadvantage to other beneficiaries, and the strength of your claim.

If the estate has already been distributed, it can complicate matters further. While the court can allow late applications, success isn’t guaranteed.

It’s essential to consult with a legal professional immediately if you’ve missed the deadline.

Here are some of the reasons why you might be able to get an extension of time to contest a will:

  • You were unaware of the will.
  • You were unable to obtain legal advice in time.
  • You should have received the evidence in time.
  • There were other extenuating circumstances.
  • The court will consider all relevant circumstances when determining whether to grant an extension.

Are There Exceptions to the QLD Time Limit for Will Contests?

Yes, there are exceptions to the QLD time limit for contesting a will.

While the general rule is that notice of intent to compete should be given within six months of the deceased’s death and formal court proceedings should commence within nine months, the court can grant extensions in certain circumstances.

To seek an extension, an applicant must provide compelling reasons for their delay. The court will weigh various factors, including:

  1. Reason for the Delay: The court will consider why you didn’t act within the initial time frame.
  2. Prejudice to Beneficiaries: If granted an extension, the potential disadvantage or discrimination against other beneficiaries might be evaluated.
  3. Strength of the Applicant’s Case: The court will examine the merit of the claimant’s case—whether there’s a reasonable chance of success.
  4. Distribution of the Estate: If the estate’s assets have already been distributed or have been granted probate, it may complicate matters. The court will consider this when deciding whether to grant an extension.
  5. Any Other Relevant Circumstances: This can include any conduct or actions taken by other beneficiaries, the size of the estate, or other unique aspects relevant to the case.

Client Missed Qld Deadline to Contest a Will and Sought an Extension

At Walker Pender, a client approached us after missing the QLD deadline to contest a will. Her delay was due to challenges in procuring vital evidence for her case.

We quickly assisted her in drafting a concise rationale for the delay, emphasising the evidence’s importance.

In our court application for an extension, we argued that justice is best served with complete evidence.

Thanks to our efforts, the court granted the extension, allowing her to present her entire will dispute case. Our dedicated approach at Walker Pender ensured justice in a complex legal situation.

Missed The Deadline To Challenge A Will In Qld? 

Time might be ticking, but it’s not over yet. At Walker Pender, we specialise in navigating tight timelines and complex legal landscapes.

Don’t let the clock dictate your rights. Let our experienced team guide you through every step, ensuring your voice is heard. Contact Walker Pender today and take control of your legal journey.

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