Bitter siblings fight over mother’s estate

Published 26 Mar 2018

A bitter family feud has spilled over into the courtroom, with three out of four siblings pursuing a greater share of their mother’s estate.

The deceased passed away aged 96 in 2014. Her first- and second-born children were both daughters, after which she had two sons. She left her main asset – a $1.75 million home in Gladesville – to her eldest son, who was her primary caregiver.

Her jewellery, which was allegedly worth $100,000, was bequeathed to her younger daughter. The deceased’s eldest daughter and youngest son were left out of the will.

Both daughters and the youngest son pursued family provision claims against their mother’s estate. The younger daughter’s motive was different to her siblings, as her claim primarily aimed to protect the interests of the eldest son, whom she was residing with in the family home that he inherited.

Sibling rivalry overshadows claims

The eldest daughter and youngest son were the first and second plaintiffs, respectively. Their sister and brother were the respective first and second defendants, as well as the deceased’s executors.

Justice Geoff Lindsay said the acrimonious relationships between the siblings, particularly the two daughters, had a significant impact on the case.

“Much of the four days it took to hear these proceedings was taken up with inconclusive attacks on the credit of each party or, perhaps more accurately, each of the applicants,” he explained.

“The net effect of those attacks was to diminish all parties, inviting caution across the board in the assessment of their evidence.”

The accusations included that the eldest daughter had stolen her mother’s jewellery following her death, as well as $26,000 from her bank account.

Did the siblings receive further provision?

Mudslinging aside, Justice Lindsay’s decision came down to Section 59(1)(c) of the Succession Act 2006. Namely, did the deceased make adequate provision for the claimants’ proper maintenance, education and advancement in life when writing her will?

After examining the evidence and weighing up the mother’s testamentary intentions, the judge ruled the warring siblings did not need extra provision from their mother’s estate.

Specifically, the claimants were said to be in relatively good health and enjoyed stable financial circumstances. As such, the family provision claims were unsuccessful, with the eldest son retaining the property as originally outlined in his mother’s will.

Before pursuing an inheritance dispute, it’s crucial to discuss your case with an experienced contesting wills lawyer to ensure you have a solid claim. Get in touch with Gerard Malouf & Partners Will Dispute Lawyers to ensure you have the best chance of success.

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