A family feud that has spanned decades spilled over into court last year when the eldest son of a brewery worker launched a provision claim against his father’s estate.
The plaintiff, who had two sisters and a brother, was left out of his father’s will following a series of fallouts reaching as far back as the 1970s.
According to NSW Supreme Court documents, the plaintiff had been an aggressive youth who was regularly physically violent towards his parents and siblings, as well as verbally berating them.
A history of family disruption
On one occasion in 1983, the plaintiff discovered his youngest sister – who died in 2015 – had a boyfriend, leading him to punch her in the face and stomp on her while she was unconscious.
The plaintiff also continues to resent his other sister for a relationship she had with a married man more than 30 years ago. The hostility between the pair boiled over in the courtroom, with the plaintiff’s sister halting her testimony in court to “rant” at her brother for “ruining her life”.
Despite being warned of her behaviour and initially calming down, she again launched a tirade at the plaintiff, with Justice Michael Slattery describing her as “wildly hostile” towards her brother.
The plaintiff’s relationships with his parents and brother were also strained. A business deal between him and his brother turned sour when the plaintiff substantially increased the rent on sub-let premises he provided to his sibling.
This resulted in the plaintiff’s brother attacking him with a crowbar before being dragged off by bystanders. The incident is what is thought to have caused a long-term rift in the family, with the plaintiff’s parents subsequently writing him out of the will because of his behaviour.
Family provision claim decision
Justice Slattery noted that while the plaintiff hadn’t tried to reconcile with his parents before their death, his siblings would likely have blocked any attempts he made to do so.
Nevertheless, the judge ruled that the plaintiff should not receive extra provisions from his father’s estate for several reasons.
First, the plaintiff was independently wealthy and was not financially in need under the Succession Act 2006. Second, his previous volatile behaviour and negligible attempts to mend the family rift were seen as important and legitimate reasons why his father had written him out of the will.
Last, the plaintiff’s siblings’ financial positions were far more precarious than his, with the judge claiming they had “real and genuine claims” upon the estate.
If you want to discuss whether your family provision claim is likely to succeed in court, please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Will Dispute Lawyers.