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A few months ago, we heard the news that a friend’s father died. He was middle-aged, an executive in a multi-million company, and had provided well for his family. We knew him to be very quiet but would sometimes attempt to throw in jokes on the dinner table on his good days. He was also well loved by his children. My friend would even boast of his father’s generosity and kindness, especially to the poor. Our hearts went to our friend who was deeply affected by her father’s death.
Just the other night, I met up with my friend for some drinks at the local bar. She seemed a lot better and coping really well from her loss. I was really glad she is slowly finding the path to acceptance. She mentioned that her father apparently left a will to dispose his properties. It is a good thing though that his father was diligent enough to prepare for the proper disposal of his properties (in the occasion of his death)—like what goes to who and how much. He also made sure that no one was left out from his estate. Although, all is well from their end, we went into discussing the possibilities that could have resulted had her father not planned for this. I realized that had his father did not had this foresight, everything else would be chaotic and stressful for the family members who are also grieving from his loss. My friend shared to me what their lawyer explained to them.
I learned that there are instances when the document disposing of a person’s estate or a “will” may be challenged based on undue influence, fraud, forgery and that the testator lacked sound mental capacity.
Our discussion interested me a lot that I kept asking questions, and well, my friend gladly obliged to answer. There is undue influence when a person takes improper advantage of his power over the will of another person, thus, depriving the one who makes the will freedom of choice. Fraud is quite easy to understand. Forgery is also, quite simple. This is when someone else forged the signature of the testator. Of course, the truth of the will is questioned and should be challenged. Lastly, if the testator is of unsound mind that he is not capable to discern properly the disposition of his will on the basis of, say, senility or perhaps, he is under the influence of substances that altered the state of his consciousness or right thinking, the dispositions he made may be challenged as being his true intentions.
That night, I felt I went to law school and finished a course. Of course, that is an exaggeration! It’s a good thing that here in Sydney, the Challenge a Will lawyers can help you contest a will. It is still best to ask for an expert’s advice if you feel that you need more information regarding these. This is not something you can forego and just let it pass without understanding your rights and responsibilities.
On the lighter note, I learned a lot and realized that preparation is key even beyond death. I also realized the value of putting value on the things we work hard for in this life. At the point of death, we do not want our families and loved ones to squabble over the things we worked for when the purpose was really to give them comfortable lives, that is completely missing the point, right? I am glad my friend’s family did not have to go through the struggle of dividing her father’s estate. More importantly, I am happy that their lovely family was able to preserve the love their father left. I hope to see her more vibrant and joyful in the days to come.