Step-child left out of step-father’s will settles dispute for $140,000

Published 12 Feb 2014

Author: David Cossalter

When our client first instructed will dispute lawyer David Cossalter she informed him that she was one of six children, and that she feared that her and one of her brothers may have been left out of their step-father’s will. Upon investigation David Cossalter found that the deceased had left both of his step children out of his will and that our client had a valid will dispute claim.

The deceased married our client’s mother and moved into their family home. Our client and her biological brother took on the deceased’s surname. For all intents and purposes, our client treated the deceased as her father. The relationship between our client and her step-father continued to be strong even after the breakdown of his marriage to her mother.

Our client only ever had one major argument with her step-father during his lifetime, patching things up quickly, as they both realised that their relationship was more important than what they were arguing over. Our client continued to see her step-father every week and he would often enjoy Sunday dinner with her family. When our client’s step-father went on holidays she would do his gardening and pick up his mail.

Approximately one year before our client’s step-father passed away he became mentally unwell. Around this time he began to think that our client was somebody else and he became very aggressive towards her. As a result of these incidents our client stopped visiting her step-father. However, she always made sure that her she was in contact with her half siblings and that she knew how he was holding up.

Our client was in very poor financial circumstances. She owed over $400,000 in debt, had five children of her own to provide for and had a very low family income.

Upon identifying that our client had been left out of her step father’s will she contacted Gerard Malouf and Partners to see if disputing a will was possible.

David Cossalter investigated the matter and made an offer of settlement to the executors of the estate in an attempt to avoid litigation. This offer was not accepted and formal Court proceedings regarding a will dispute were pursued. Despite this, negotiations continued and we were able to resolve the case at Mediation for an amount of $140,000.00. Our client was overjoyed with the result.

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