Adult daughter awarded $60,000 from mother’s estate after dispute

Published 26 Sep 2017

The eldest daughter of a woman who died in 2015 has successfully fought a family provision claim at NSW Supreme Court.

In her will, the deceased split her $504,739 estate between her three children and two grandchildren. The plaintiff was left a legacy of $20,000, while her brother – the middle sibling – received only a writing desk.

The deceased’s youngest daughter and her two children benefited from the remainder of the estate. This included a property in Wagga Wagga, which was divided equally between the three beneficiaries.

The facts of the family provision claim

The relationship between the plaintiff and the deceased was close until an incident in 2006 when the deceased described the plaintiff’s first granddaughter as illegitimate.

Neither party spoke to each other for over a year, until the plaintiff repaired the relationship over the phone. However, the pair fell out again in 2008 regarding the deceased’s alcohol consumption.

The plaintiff alleged that her mother was an alcoholic, which was a claim supported by her brother, who had lived with the deceased between 2008 and 2011.

Due to this disagreement, the plaintiff and the deceased did not contact each other again until the defendant’s daughter’s wedding. Following this, they kept in touch sporadically until the deceased passed away.

The plaintiff’s finances

The plaintiff has several health conditions and is unlikely to ever work again.

She claimed that she and her husband, who is already retired, receive no income other than a fortnightly pension of $83.

However, the defendant’s counsel revealed the plaintiff actually received fortnightly Newstart payments. Her husband also claimed a Colonial First State pension and an Aged Pension, worth a total of $1,109 every two weeks.

Furthermore, the plaintiff’s son was paying them $150 a week in board.

Family provision claim decision

Justice Philip Hallen almost dismissed the entire proceedings due to the plaintiff’s failure to accurately describe her financial situation.

However, he said “with some hesitation” that the plaintiff was merely “careless” in her “ill-considered” disclosure. He ultimately decided the plaintiff had not received adequate provisions within the will and awarded her $60,000.

The defendant and her children were left the remainder of the estate, which was worth approximately $375,000 after legal costs.

Are you thinking about making a family provision claim? Please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Will Dispute Lawyers to pursue your case.

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