Who Can Contest A Will In Australia? | Armstrong Legal

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This article was written by Dr Nicola Bowes

Dr Nicola Bowes holds a Bachelor of Arts with first class honours from the University of Tasmania, a Bachelor of Laws with first class honours from the Queensland University of Technology, and a PhD from The University of Queensland. After a decade working in higher education, Nicola joined Armstrong Legal in 2020.

Who Can Contest A Will In Australia?


Each state and territory in Australia has a law that governs who can contest a will. There are some common principles that apply to the question of eligibility, namely that a current spouse and minor child of the deceased always have a right to dispute a will. The other categories of eligible persons vary depending on the wording of the particular succession legislation, but often other members of the deceased’s family and household are eligible to make a claim. This article lists the eligible persons in each jurisdiction of Australia.

Who Can Contest A Will In Queensland?

The Succession Act 1981 lists the following people as eligible to contest a will:

  • The deceased’s current spouse
  • A de facto partner of the deceased
  • A child of the deceased
  • An ex-spouse of the deceased
  • A grandchild if they were at one time and to some degree dependent on the deceased
  • A member of the deceased’s household if they were at one time and to some degree dependent on the deceased for financial support
  • Someone who was living with the deceased and shared a close personal relationship

South Australia

The Inheritance (Family Provision) Act 1972 allows a broader list of people to contest a will:

  • The spouse of the deceased
  • A spouse divorced from the deceased
  • The domestic partner of the deceased
  • A child of the deceased
  • A child of a deceased’s spouse or domestic partner, if the child was legally entitled to maintenance from the deceased
  • A grandchild of the deceased
  • A parent of the deceased so long as the parent was responsible for the deceased’s maintenance at some point in their lifetime
  • A sibling of the deceased so long as the sibling financially contributed to the deceased at some point in the past

Who Can Contest A Will In Victoria?

The Administration and Probate Act 1958 directs that the following family and dependents can contest a will:

  • A current domestic partner or spouse of the deceased
  • A stepchild, assumed child, biological or adopted child of the deceased who is either under 18, a student under the age of 25, or someone with a disability
  • An adult child of the deceased who is struggling to support themselves financially
  • An ex-wife or ex-husband or former domestic partner of the deceased who was eligible to start Family Law proceedings against the deceased, but was not able to finalise their claim prior to the deceased’s death.
  • A registered caring partner of the deceased
  • A grandchild of the deceased
  • A son or daughter in law of the deceased
  • A member of the deceased’s household, or someone who lived with the deceased in the past and was likely to do so in the future

New South Wales

The Succession Act 2006 allows the following people to contest a will:

  • A spouse of the deceased
  • A de facto partner of the deceased
  • A child of the deceased
  • A former spouse of the deceased
  • A dependent grandchild of the deceased
  • A dependent member of the deceased’s household
  • A person who was living in a close personal relationship with the deceased

Who Can Contest A Will In Australian Capital Territory?

The Family Provision Act 1969 enables certain people to contest a will:

  • A spouse of the deceased
  • A domestic partner of the deceased
  • A child of the deceased
  • A stepchild of the deceased, if they were dependent on the deceased immediately before the testator’s death
  • A grandchild of the deceased, if the grandchild’s parent predeceased the testator, or if the parent was not providing for the needs of the child
  • A parent of the deceased, if they were dependent on the deceased or if the deceased had no partner or children

Who Can Contest A Will In Western Australia?

The Family Provision Act 1972 allows specific people to contest a will:

  • A married spouse or de facto partner of the deceased
  • A former spouse or partner entitled to maintenance
  • A child of the deceased, including a child born in the ten months following the deceased’s death
  • A stepchild if they were entitled to maintenance, or if the deceased inherited above a prescribed amount from the estate of the child’s natural parent
  • A grandchild of the deceased who was dependent on the deceased, or a grandchild whose parent predeceased the testator
  • A parent of the deceased if the deceased acknowledged the relationship during their lifetime

Who Can Contest A Will In the Northern Territory?

The Family Provision Act 1970 outlines the eligible people who can contest a will:

  • A de facto partner or spouse of the deceased
  • A former spouse or partner of the deceased if they were maintained by the deceased
  • A child of the deceased
  • A stepchild of the deceased if they were maintained by the deceased
  • A grandchild of the deceased, if their parent passed away before the testator or parent did not contribute appropriately to the maintenance of the child
  • A parent of the deceased who was maintained by the deceased, or if the deceased had no spouse or children

Who Can Contest A Will In Tasmania?

The Testator’s Family Maintenance Act 1912 allows a limited list of people to contest a will:

  • The spouse of the deceased
  • The children of the deceased
  • The deceased’s parent, if the deceased dies without spouse or children
  • A former spouse of the deceased who was entitled to maintenance
  • Someone who was in a significant relationship with the deceased and entitled to maintenance

Estate law can be quite confusing, especially as the rules differ according to the location of the deceased estate. The contested wills team at Armstrong Legal can assist you with any questions you have about who can contest a will in Australia, and help you to file a claim against a deceased estate. Please contact us to discuss the details of your legal needs or phone 1300 038 223 to make an appointment.

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