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De-facto partner awarded $850,000 after contesting will

family provision claim can help people challenge a will when feel they have been inadequately provided for by the deceased.

This is exactly what one woman did recently when her de-facto partner died from pancreatic cancer, leaving the majority of his estate to his only daughter.

The plaintiff, who had been in a relationship with the deceased since 1998, originally received $2.65 million in the will, including death benefits from her partner’s superannuation fund and a North Sydney property.

According to NSW Supreme Court documents, the two-bedroom unit is currently worth $875,000 and was one of three debated properties shared between the will beneficiaries: the deceased’s partner, sister and daughter.

The other properties consisted of a $2.15 million home in Kirribilli that was left to the daughter and a $695,000 apartment in Cammeray, which the decedent’s sister received.

However, the plaintiff argued that she had not received adequate provisions from the estate, with over $4 million going to the daughter and $1.3 million to the sister.

Instead, she claimed an emotional connection to the Kirribilli property and requested she receive ownership of the unit instead of the North Sydney dwelling.

If this notion was refused, she was willing to accept the Cammeray unit outright, in addition to the North Sydney home she already possessed.

Judge rules on inheritance dispute

The judge decided that the plaintiff had not adequately been provided for in the will based on her age, the amount of time she was a partner to the deceased before his death and employment prospects.

She had given up work to go travelling with her partner at his request and was currently unemployed, with little chance of finding gainful employment.

However, the judge admitted a “persistent, nagging doubt” that the woman was not as emotionally attached to the Kirribilli property as she suggested.

Instead, he was concerned she was more interested in its commercial value, which far exceeded the price of the property she had been left in the will.

Therefore, the judge decided to maintain the existing property arrangements between the three beneficiaries, but make an order for $850,000 to be taken from the daughter’s inheritance and given to the deceased’s partner.

The judgement took into account the daughter’s young age, intelligence, education and ongoing study, which meant she could bear the reduction without it affecting her future prospects.

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Contesting Wills
 — Gerard Malouf & Partners

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