A daughter has successfully pursued a family provision claim against the estate of her mother, despite the two becoming estranged in the years prior to the latter’s death.
The plaintiff, the elder of two daughters, originally received nothing from the deceased’s estate, which was bequeathed in its entirety to her sister.
According to NSW Supreme Court documents, the estate was worth more than $2 million, largely comprising a $1.6 million property in Turramurra. The deceased also owned more than $75,000 in shares and an accommodation bond worth nearly $225,000.
Justice Philip Hallen resided over the case, and he claimed a crucial factor in deciding whether the plaintiff should receive provisions from the estate centred on the nature of the relationship between mother and daughter.
How did the estrangement affect the claim?
The plaintiff and her mother had always had a strained relationship, but the situation became significantly worse in the time preceding and following the death of the plaintiff’s father.
Both the plaintiff and her mother claimed they did not receive any emotional support from each other during this difficult time, and there was allegedly some resentment regarding the fact that the father left the majority of his estate to his elder daughter.
The plaintiff failed to improve the relationship with her mother, although she continued to send letters in an effort to reconcile. This correspondence became less frequent over the years, particularly as the mother never responded.
Justice Hallen claimed these letters were important in showing that the plaintiff was keen to re-establish a relationship with her mother, despite previous tensions.
Making a decision
The judge had to weigh up various factors when ruling on the case, including the financial needs of the plaintiff and her sister, the defendant; the cause of the estrangement; the deceased’s wishes; and the size of the estate.
Ultimately, Justice Hallen ruled that adequate provisions had not been given to the plaintiff in the deceased’s will, in which she failed to even mention her daughter.
He also noted that the plaintiff’s efforts to reconcile indicated she wanted to improve her relationship with her mother.
Given that the estate was worth more than $2 million and the plaintiff was relying largely on the Age Pension, Justice Hallen awarded $425,000 to help the claimant clear her outstanding debts and set aside contingency funds.
The remainder of the estate, totalling more than $1.375 million, went to her younger sister as originally laid out in the will.
Please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Will Dispute Lawyers if you would like more information on contesting a will in NSW.