A family member has left their entire estate to charity, can I make a claim?

Published 20 Oct 2015

Author: David Cossalter

One of the true benefits of Australia's free and open society is that a person is able to allocate anything in his or her estate to anyone he or she chooses. These decisions are often made after a lot of thought and consideration, and many people take this process very seriously.

However, there are still many well-documented cases of estate allocation where a particular party is not happy about the result. In fact, a common occurrence is around the issue of charity. As mentioned above, the testator has the capacity to leave his or her assets to anyone including education institutions, businesses or even charities. 

It is important to note that the relationship between the deceased and the charity is irrelevant. It doesn't matter whether he or she has worked or contributed to the charity for years or hasn't made a single donation. The simple fact of the matter is that this option is available to him or her if he or she chooses.

What can I do if I'm unhappy with this result?

If a family member has left his or her entire estate to a charity and you believe you have not received the appropriate number of provisions, the first step is to talk to a contesting will lawyer. These experienced individuals can launch your case and ensure you have the best chance of success.

The first step revolves around your eligibility to make a claim. In NSW, there are clear guidelines to who can contest a will.

Once this process is completed, a lawyer can begin to develop an argument to why you and any other applicants should be provided the assets. Often, the reason involves financial need. 

Perhaps you are in a tough financial situation or weren't provided enough assets in the will to maintain your standard of living. Regardless of the reason, evidence is required to prove to the court that your requirements are more important than the charity's.

Will the charity contest the claim?

Charities are often not in a position to take a contesting wills case to the conclusion of a trial. As such, charities may consider mediation between themselves and the challenger to ensure both parties benefit from the estate. 

Of course, if this process doesn't resolve the matter, court action is an option.

In estates where charities gain assets, it is always an option to contest a will. To learn more, contact our expert team today.

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