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Contesting A Will in the NT


Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555
Melbourne: (03) 9620 2777
Brisbane: (07) 3229 4448
Adelaide: (08) 8410 0055
Perth: (08) 9321 5505

Alun Hill

In the Northern Territory, eligible persons can Contest a Will and make what is called a Family Provision claim if they have been left without adequate provision from a deceased estate.

Our team practices exclusively in Wills and Estates Law and are here to guide you through the process to the best possible outcome. If you are considering contesting a will, or if you have a question, we encourage you to call us on 1300 168 676 for a free initial case assessment.

Each State of Australia has a different set of rules which apply when contesting a Will. There are different time limits and eligibility differs in each State depending on where the deceased died. If the deceased died in the NT, the information below is relevant.

Almost all of our Contesting a Will work in the NT is done on a No Win No Fee basis.

Grounds for contesting a will in the NT

Contesting a Will refers to making a family provision claim under the Family Provision Act (NT). (FPA).

In the Northern Territory, you may contest a will if:

  1. You are an eligible person (See Who can contest a will in NSW? (Eligible Applicants) ); and
  2. You believe you have been left without being adequately provided for (adequate provision). The Court may consider your financial position, your relationship with the deceased, the size of the estate and the deceased’s relationship with other persons who are eligible to make a claim. Adequate provision is complex and difficult to define as it varies with every unique case. Given that each case is unique we recommend you call us for a free case assessment.

For further information regarding the matters the Court can consider see: What does the court consider when making a claim? question below.


To discuss whether you have a case, please call us on 1300 168 676 for a free case assessment.

How to contest a will in the Northern Territory?

Generally a Family Provision Claim is made in NT if either:-

  1. The deceased was domiciled (that is lived) in NT at the date of his or her death and owned assets in NT; or
  2. The deceased lived elsewhere but owned assets in NT.

The person contesting the Estate must be an eligible applicant, as defined under Section 7 of the Family Provision Act (NT);

The claim must be made within 12 months from the date on which probate or letters of administration has been granted , or outside of 12 months with special leave to do so from the Supreme Court.

Where an application has been made to the Court for provision out of the estate of a deceased person, the applicant is required to serve notice of the application on the Estate.

Please call one of our lawyers if you are unsure in which state to contest a Will in. If you are thinking of making a claim, you should act immediately. It is possible the estate property may be sold or transferred and estate funds may be spent. If you delay in making a claim, there may be no assets or funds to claim on.If you would like to discuss making a claim, you may contact our office to speak to one of our lawyers.

Our lawyers will talk to you about your matter and we are able to settle your claim without going to court depending on your wishes. We can start court proceedings for you if the people who are named in the Will do not want to settle.

To discuss your case, please call us on 1300 168 676.

Who can contest a will in the Northern Territory? (Eligible Applicants)

In the Northern Territory there is a category of persons who are eligible to make an application for provision from a deceased person’s estate. These persons are listed in Section 7 of the Family Provision Act (NT).

The following persons are eligible to make an application to the court for an order for provision or further provision:-

  1. A spouse or defacto partner,
  2. Ex-spouse,
  3. Child,
  4. Step-child,
  5. Grandchild,
  6. Parent of a deceased person.

However, ex-spouses, step-children, grandchildren, de facto partners and parents of the deceased are only eligible if they were being maintained by the deceased at the time of their death.

Maintenance means not simply that they were living with the deceased at the time of their death, but also includes court-ordered maintenance, where the deceased makes more than nominal payments, or where, if the deceased were still alive, the applicant could get an order for maintenance from the court.

If you are considering contesting a will, or if you have a question, we encourage you to call us on 1300 168 676 for a free initial case assessment.

How long do I have to contest a will in the Northern Territory? (Time Limits)

Family maintenance proceedings must be brought within 12 months of the grant of probate or letters of administration [FPA s 9(1)].

In some situations, the court will extend this time limit [FPA s.9(2)].

We encourage you to make contact with our team on 1300 168 676 for a free case assessment even if you have exceeded the 12 month time limit.

How do I get a copy of a will in the Northern Territory?

A common problem that people encounter is that they do not know if they have been included in the deceased person’s will.

The first thing you should do is contact the executor or the solicitor acting for the estate. The executor is the person responsible for administering the deceased’s estate.

In NT, the following persons are entitled to inspect or be given a copy of the deceased’s will:

  • A person named or referred to in the will, whether as a beneficiary or otherwise;
  • The surviving spouse or child of the deceased person;
  • A parent or a guardian of the deceased person;
  • A person who would be entitled to a share of the deceased person's estate if the deceased person had died intestate;
  • A creditor or other person having a claim at law or in equity against the deceased person's estate;
  • A beneficiary of a prior will of the deceased person;
  • A parent or guardian of a minor referred to in the will or a minor who would be entitled to a share of the deceased person's estate if the deceased person had died intestate.

See Section 54 of the Wills Act 2000 (NT).

You should consult with a lawyer if you are having trouble obtaining a copy of the will, your lawyer can consult with the Executor of the estate or begin court proceedings.

In the event the deceased left no will (died intestate), an application for letters of administration must be made. See Dying Without a Will below for more information.

If you need assistance in obtaining a copy of a Will or have a question, we encourage you to call us on 1300 168 676.

Costs of contesting a will in the NT / who pays fees?

In Northern Territory the Judge has discretion regarding legal costs in family provision proceedings.

If the Judge makes an order for provision for an applicant, the estate will usually pay the applicant’s ordinary costs.

If the applicant is unsuccessful and the Judge makes no order for provision for the applicant, then the Judge may order the applicant to pay the executor’s costs of defending the proceedings. This is why we recommend that you seek advice from a lawyer who specialises in this area of law. We will assess your case and advise you on the strength of your case and likely outcomes.

We offer a variety of costs agreements in these cases including "No Win No Fee" costs agreement.

To discuss costs in greater detail call us on 1300 168 676.

Dying without a will? (Intestacy)

In the Northern Territory, the laws of intestacy are set out in the Administration and Probate Act (NT) (the Act). The rules in the Act apply to the estate of any person who was living in the Northern Territory at the time of their death and did not leave a will. These rules will also apply to any property that was not covered by a will.

An intestate estate is distributed in a specific way under Northern Territory law and has a clear inheritance order as well as specific steps that need to be followed.

Generally, the spouse and any children will inherit the bulk of the estate, but the exact way it’s broken down depends on how much the estate is worth and the specific situation.

Spouse only (no children, brothers, sisters or parents)

The spouse inherits everything. If there is more than one eligible spouse or partner, then they share the entire estate.

Spouse and children

This is generally when the intestate has left behind a spouse or partner as well as children or grandchildren. The way it’s broken up depends on the dollar value of the estate.

If the estate is worth less than $350,000, then the spouse inherits it all.

If the estate is worth more than $350,000, then the spouse inherits the first $350,000 plus:

  • Half the remainder when there is only one child (only one child of the intestate)
  • One third of the remainder when there are more than one child.

Here, the children inherit any amount that the spouse does not.

Spouse and parents or siblings, but no children

In this case, the spouse can inherit the full amount of any estate worth up to $500,000 as well as half of any remainder over this amount.

Any other remainder goes to the intestate’s parents if they are still alive. Where necessary, such as if the intestate’s parents have separated, then the amount is divided equally among both parents.

If the parents have not survived the intestate, then any brothers and sisters can inherit the parent’s amount instead, also divided equally.

No spouse, with children

If there is no spouse or eligible de-facto partner to inherit, then the intestate’s children can inherit the entire amount.

No spouse, no children, with parents

The parents are entitled to the full amount, divided equally between them if necessary.

No spouse, no children

If the intestate is not survived by any children, spouse or partner, then the following order applies:

Brothers and sisters

Siblings and their children are entitled to the estate.

Grandparents

If there are no siblings, then the intestate’s grandparents are entitled to the estate, divided equally between them if needed.

Aunts and uncles

If there are no siblings or grandparents, then the intestate’s aunts and uncles can inherit. If an aunt or uncle has passed away before the intestate, then their children may also inherit at this stage.

If none of the above

Generally, if none of the above family remains, the NT government may take the property.

For further information please call us on 1300 168 676.

What happens if the will is not valid?

In order for a will to be valid it must be in writing, witnessed correctly and dated. A court may in certain circumstances admit a document which does not meet all of these requirements.

The validity of a will may also be challenged on other grounds including:

  1. The lack of a mental capacity. The cases usually arise when the deceased of the deceased had dementia or was of unsound mind at the time that instructions were provided for the preparation of the will. In order to challenge a will based on mental capacity, the person challenging the will must prove that the testator:
  2. Forgery;
  3. Undue influence placed on the deceased in making the will; and
  4. Fraud.

Fraud, forgery and undue influence matters involve establishing that the testator who was in a vulnerable position was manipulated to leave his or her property in a particular way.

There are specific evidentiary matters which must support such claims regarding the validity of a will.

You should consult a lawyer to discuss the circumstances of your case and the evidence that you have to support challenging the validity of a will.

If a will is found not to be valid and the deceased did not make an earlier Will, then an application for Letters of Administration will be required to be made by the spouse or de facto partner or one of the next of kin who is over the age of 18 years.

Our team practices exclusively in Wills and Estates Law and are here to guide you through the process to the best possible outcome. If you are considering contesting a will, or if you have a question, we encourage you to call us on 1300 168 676 for a free initial case assessment.

What does the court consider when making a claim?

An application will not succeed merely on the basis that a will is unfair or unjust in its distribution; an applicant must show the deceased failed to observe their legal obligation to make adequate provision for their proper maintenance and support. Courts have guidelines determining the meaning of 'adequate provision for proper maintenance and support. The FPA also sets out criteria. Some important considerations are:

  • The net value of the estate after debts, funeral, testamentary and other liabilities has been deducted. Clearly, if the estate is not big enough to be capable of redistribution the action can't succeed;
  • The age, sex and health of the applicant;
  • Whether the applicant had been provided with independent means through any gift, transfer or other provision made by the deceased during their life or derived from any other source whatsoever;
  • The relationship between the applicant and the deceased;
  • The character and conduct of the applicant. For example, the court could refuse on the basis of an applicant's chronic drunkenness, serious extravagance with money or abandonment of obligations to children.

For further information please contact us on 1300 168 676.





where to next?

Have you been left without adequate provision from a deceased estate? We offer a free assessment of your case and a no win no fee policy. We have a specialist team that deals only in Wills & Estates servicing NSW, VIC, QLD, ACT, SA & WA. The law relating to Wills and Estates can often be complex and confusing so we encourage you to make contact with our team.

Why Choose Armstrong Legal?

Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555
Melbourne: (03) 9620 2777
Brisbane: (07) 3229 4448
Adelaide: (08) 8410 0055
Perth: (08) 9321 5505