When wills are not carefully drawn out, or perhaps fail to mention a family member who more than likely should have received a part of the estate, it can lead to inheritance disputes and family provision claims.
These legal battles can cause severe problems among families if they are not resolved quickly and carefully. Such was the case in a recent family provision claim heard by the New South Wales Supreme court, in which the son of a deceased woman claimed he deserved a part of her estate, but the woman’s daughter argued against this.
When Uvon Dawn Dodds passed away on September 5, 2011, at the age of 83, she left behind a small estate that, in her will, was wholly given to Rosemary, one of her three children from her first marriage.
All assets were left to Rosemary in the will, which went into effect on April 3, 2012. Ms Dodds went so far as to explicitly mention that the two other children, Peter Dodds and Paula Michelle Dodds, should not be provided for, as they had no financial needs.
However, Peter Dodds filed the family provision claim to assert that he did in fact need to be provided for.
Determining what amount, if any, should go to the plaintiff
In the case, the judge looked at a number of factors to determine if Peter deserved to receive a part of the estate, despite what his mother had outlined in the document. The judge stated that Peter’s situation was such that it was up to him how much money he could make in his line of work in the future.
Peter hoped to gain between $50,000 and $80,000 worth of the estate, which would be used to pay off debt, mortgages and costs related to his home-run business.
In the end, the judge determined that despite Peter’s current living situations, he would not receive the amount for which he was asking.
“All of these considerations lead me to find that there was no failure, on the part of the deceased, to make adequate provision for Peter. Accordingly, Peter’s claim fails at the jurisdictional stage. That finding concludes the matter and must lead to the dismissal of the proceedings,” the judge wrote.
When a family provision claim arises, it’s best to speak with experienced contesting wills lawyers to reach the best outcome.