A woman who contested the will of her deceased father has seen her inheritance drop from $200,000 to $50,000 on appeal.
The daughter, one of seven siblings, had originally received nothing from her father’s estate, although he forgave a $14,000 debt she owed. Her dad, a farmer, left the majority of his assets to his wife and one of his sons, who had remained on the family farm to work.
However, when the daughter launched a family provision claim, the original judge decided she had not been adequately provided for and awarded her $200,000, which was to come out of her brother’s share of the estate.
The deceased’s assets were primarily held in real estate, including a $900,000 farm property north of the Murrumbidgee River. A further four properties brought the total estate value to approximately $2 million.
Inheritance dispute appeal
The plaintiff’s mother and two siblings were the executors of the will, and they filed an appeal against the judge’s decision. They claimed he had not given enough consideration towards the deceased’s wishes and said the provision for the daughter was disproportionately high.
According to the executors, the original judge also erred in his ruling to provide enough money to the plaintiff so she could purpose a property. It was argued that the daughter’s claim on the estate was not strong enough to support such a provision.
Upon re-examining the evidence, the appellate judges agreed with the grounds of the appeal and reduced the amount allocated to the daughter.
While the courts acknowledged her financial position was currently stable, at 57 years old her long-term employment status could not be guaranteed. This was particularly true considering her current role in a supermarket was quite physically demanding.
Judge changes asset distribution
The successful appeal means the plaintiff will now receive $50,000, as well as having to bear the costs of the additional proceedings.
This money would be enough to pay off nearly half of the money she owes on a unit with her former husband, giving her more financial freedom without significantly affecting the provisions put aside for her brother.
Cases such as this highlight the complex nature of many family provision claims, which is why it’s important to hire a seasoned contesting wills lawyer to fight your corner.
Inheritance disputes can be time-consuming and go through various appeals, so the best way to achieve success is to gather sufficient evidence beforehand and ensure your legal team is able to offer a no-win, no-fees service.