Contesting a Will Case Review: Chandler v Coulson  NSWSC 172
Published 24 Nov 2015
After being unfairly left out of his de-facto partner’s will, Mr Raymond Chandler was left with the prospect of contesting a will, receiving a judgment of $400,000 from his de-facto partner’s Estate in Northern Rivers.
The life of the deceased, Ms Susan Malins, was an unfortunate one. After her father’s death in the mid-90s Susan fell to alcoholism, suffering from epilepsy, a history of depression and anxiety. In 2009 her alcohol consumption increased significantly due to the death of her mother, and in 2010 she was hospitalized, deemed unable to look after herself and admitted to an aged care facility.
Raymond met Susan in the late 90s. Their relationship was a troubled one, with Raymond looking after Susan and following her as she moved between facilities and her mother’s care throughout her life. In 2011 Susan used the proceeds of her mother’s Estate to purchase a property at Pottsville, Northern Rivers, the couple sharing their lives together and becoming engaged before her death in 2013.
Raymond had little in terms of assets. In 2007 he cashed in his superannuation to pay for a concreting business that would eventually fail. By 2009 he was on a Disability Support Pension after suffering a disc prolapse at work. At the time of the case he was living in the house that he and Susan shared, his entire assets valued at $2,600.
Susan’s will left nothing to Raymond, being written in 2007 during a brief separation after Susan had relapsed from her addiction. Despite this Raymond was the only person with her when she died. Whether she had the capacity to write a new will providing for him is a matter of debate but nonetheless Raymond was faced with the prospect of contesting a will. The judge found that Susan had a moral duty to look after Raymond, and set aside $400,000 in order to allow him to purchase a home.
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