Elderly woman awarded $100,000 for family provision claim

Published 16 Dec 2014

A 92-year-old woman has been awarded $100,000 after making a family provision claim when her de-facto spouse died last year.

The case had a number of complications that made the final decision complex, including the fact the deceased had four daughters and four stepdaughters from a former marriage.

This created problems because the stepchildren had not benefited from real estate money the deceased earned upon the death of his former spouse – their mother.

As such, NSW Supreme Court felt the stepchildren had a larger claim on the decedent’s estate than would otherwise be the case in such circumstances.

In total, the estate was worth $686,364 when probate was granted. The plaintiff – the deceased’s de-facto spouse – received a $50,000 legacy from this amount.

A further $30,000 was given to the deceased’s daughter, who was the sole defendant in the family provision claim. In addition, the de-facto spouse also had a fund set up in her name worth $382,809.

After costs and other payouts, the remainder of the estate amounted to $148,807, which under the original will was supposed to be divided between the four daughters and four stepdaughters.

Inheritance dispute

The plaintiff argued that in light of her 23-year relationship with the deceased and her advancing years that the will had not adequately provided for her needs.

This included the possibility of having to move into a nursing home at some point in the near future. Furthermore, the fund set up in her name was not available as a lump sum and was controlled by the defendant. However, it was noted that $14,000 had already been given to the 92-year-old out of this account.

According to court documents, the judge agreed the elderly woman did not receive adequate provisions, especially if her health deteriorated in the coming years. Despite this, the plaintiff’s request for a lump sum of $464,000 was rejected, as was a secondary petition for the absolute total of the fund up front.

Instead, the judge offered a $100,000 payment from the rest of the estate to provide peace of mind regarding future care arrangements. This meant any shortfall in money from the fund was to be made out of the plaintiff’s own resources.

The daughters and stepdaughters received the rest of the estate, as outlined in the will. However, the defendant passed up her share, meaning the money was divided between the remaining seven siblings.

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