Published 03 Sep 2014
Author: Richele Nelsen
John Joseph Woods died in 2011 having left a will dated 2010 and an estate with a gross value of approximately $1.69 million. Mr Woods had been married twice during his lifetime. He had three surviving children (Anna, Matthew, and Elizabeth) from his first wife, Mary, who died in 1979, and two children (Monique and Bridget) from his second wife, Margaret, who became his widow.
In his will, Mr Woods left personal property to each of his children from his first marriage and divided the residue of the estate into five shares. The three children from his first marriage each received one share of the residue, Margaret (his widow) received one share and the remaining share was to be equally divided between Monique and Bridget.
The Plaintiffs in these proceedings were Margaret, Monique and Bridget who decided to contest a will. They were each making a claim for further provision from Mr Woods’s estate. The Defendants in these proceedings were the executors named in Mr Woods’s will.
The parties agreed that the Plaintiffs were eligible persons in their claim challenging a will, applying for further provision. The Court was left to determine whether adequate provision had been made for each of the Plaintiffs under Mr Woods’s will. In considering whether further provision should be made to the Plaintiffs the Court took into account the respective circumstances of each of the interested parties.
Margaret was a 63-year-old woman who worked as a teacher’s aide earning approximately $600 a week. Margaret had ongoing health issues and wished to retire. Margaret’s only major asset was a half-share in the family home at Balgowlah. Her remaining assets were small in nature and cancelled out by her debts. Margaret owned the Balgowlah home prior to marrying Mr Woods, but transferred a half share in that property to him after he paid for renovations.
Monique and Bridget were both in their early twenties and living with their mother in the family home, whilst continuing their tertiary education. Both Monique and Bridget agreed that their claims were subordinate to their mother’s claim.
Anna was a 41-year-old married woman, employed as a part-time nurse and in a “modestly well off” position in life. Matthew was 40-year-old man who was out of paid employment. Elizabeth was 37 years old and owned a unit subject to a mortgage, and she was employed on a contractual basis.
The Court found that each of the Plaintiffs had been left without adequate provision under Mr Woods’s will. Amongst other orders, the Court made orders that Margaret receive Mr Woods’s one half share in the Balgowlah property and that Margaret, Monique and Bridget each receive $100,000. The Court made these provisions in lieu of the provision made for the Plaintiffs under Mr Woods’s will.