An out-dated will leads to family provision claims

Published 09 May 2014

Grandchildren who were left out of their grandmother’s will have made family provision claims due to a turbulent family history and a financial dependence on the deceased.

When a New South Wales grandmother died in 2010, it was discovered she had failed to update her will from 42 years earlier. Unsurprisingly, her estate had been left solely to her two children, with no provisions made for her grandchildren.

As the grandchildren were not born when the will was written, it was impossible for the grandmother to predict how the family dynamic may have changed before her death.

An estrangement and strained relationships

The plaintiffs told the Court that at the time of her death, the deceased had become estranged from her daughter, who is also the mother of the children who lodged the family provision claims. This estrangement occurred after the deceased applied for an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) against her daughter following a violent altercation in 2007.

Unfortunately, as the years passed, the deceased failed to update her will to reflect the relationships between her and her daughter. This resulted in the daughter still being bequeathed half of the $2.5 million estate.

Two of the woman’s three children then separately contacted contesting wills lawyers in order to lodge their family provision claims. They each intended to prove their financial dependence on the deceased, as well as discredit their mother’s eligibility to share in the estate.

The New South Wales Supreme Court Judge accepted that the plaintiffs and the descendent have received no financial support from their father and ex-spouse. All three have spent many years living with the deceased, relying on her for financial support and accommodation between 1993 and 2003.

During their time in the deceased’s home, the plaintiffs claim their grandmother became more significantly involved in their care than their mother was, due to her investing heavily in romantic relationships.

In 2007, the daughter requested to move back into one of her mother’s properties but was denied. The resulting argument became violent, resulting in the full estrangement in their relationship. This account was accepted by the Court.

It was also revealed that in 2010, the deceased began planning to make a new will but died before her intentions could be carried out.

With this evidence in mind, the Court decided to alter the will, giving the two grandchildren an equal share in one of the deceased’s three properties.

If you believe a family member’s will does not reflect the family dynamic, you may be eligible to make an inheritance dispute. Get in touch with a contesting wills lawyer for more information.

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