The NSW Supreme Court has awarded a woman an extra $175,000 from her father’s estate after he left her just $50,000 from a fortune worth more than $2.1 million.
Her brother, the sole executor and primary beneficiary of the estate, fought the family provision claim, which led to a bitter battle between the siblings that only a judge could resolve.
But why did the pair become locked in a feud? What were the reasons for the deceased leaving his only daughter such a small share of his wealth? And why did the judge decide to give her a larger legacy? Let’s examine the case in more detail to answer these questions.
Why did the deceased favour his son in the will?
The will did not explain why the deceased only left his daughter $50,000, although it was clear he did so intentionally. This was emphasised by the fact he wanted to distribute his estate to his four grandchildren, rather than his daughter, if his son died before him.
A number of reasons were put forward for the father’s decision, including that the relationship between him and his daughter fell apart in the years leading up to his death. The plaintiff claimed this was largely because of the geographical distance between the pair and her lack of a car.
Furthermore, the plaintiff had benefited from receiving the entirety of her mother’s estate when the latter died in 1993. Court documents did not explain why her brother was left out of their mother’s will, but the plaintiff received a property in Marrickville currently valued at $1.25 million.
What factors affected the judge’s decision?
Justice Philip Hallen ruled the deceased did not make adequate provision for his daughter in his will and awarded her $175,000, in addition to the original $50,000, for a total of $225,000.
He took into account the plaintiff’s ailing health, her limited earning capacity as a 56-year-old woman, the deceased’s relatively large fortune and the pressing need for maintenance and repairs on the Marrickville home. The money will enable the plaintiff to pay off her debts, renovate her house and keep approximately $66,500 for contingency funds.
The case is a clear example of how family provision claims can offer disinherited relatives an option when they have been left out of a loved one’s will.
If you would like to discuss contesting a will in NSW, please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Will Dispute Lawyers to learn more about our no-win, no-fee services.