Dismissed contesting a will claim provides guidance for plaintiffs

Published 23 May 2016

Making the decision to contest a will is never an easy process. When a loved one dies, the value of an estate is often the last thing people are thinking about. However, in these instances it is important that all family members are fairly provisioned and that the testator’s will has been enacted according to their wishes.

Another reason it’s important to contest a will is due to the fact that some people may try to influence a person making a will for their own gain. If you’ve noticed that a recent estate distribution did not match what a testator had previously indicated as their dying wish, it’s important to ensure any will updates were not the result of undue influence.

A plaintiff’s financial condition is also an important factor when contesting a will, especially in family provision claims. A recent case before the NSW Supreme Court illustrated the importance of being honest about these attributes when before a Judge.

NSW man loses contesting wills claim after lying about financial situation

Family provision claims exist to ensure that all members of a deceased’s family are adequately provided for in the event of their passing. This is particularly important for people who have had financial difficulties in the past or may need further assistance in the future. For example, someone who needs ongoing medical treatment will have different financial needs compare to a healthy person with a large property portfolio.

In a case that came before the NSW Supreme Court recently, a man attempted to lie about his financial condition in order to win the Judge’s favour when contesting his father’s will.

This example was further complicated by the fact that the son (plaintiff) and his father had been estranged for more than two decades. Despite this, the testator had still left his son what the Judge described as a “modest” sum.

The plaintiff lost the case due to the fact that he did not attempt to provide information that detailed his true financial situation. Instead, he tried to convince the judge his financial needs were not being met by his current income, a fact that was disputed by the judge.

With the right legal advice a family provisions claim is often successful, especially in cases where a plaintiff’s financial needs have not been met.

To find out more what you need to contest a will, contact the team at Gerard Malouf and Partners.

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