Geelong woman admits to fraud during estate challenge

Published 01 Feb 2019

An elderly Geelong woman has admitted to defrauding Centrelink during a claim for her dead partner’s $4 million estate.

The 76-year-old woman had claimed almost $300,000 of taxpayer money through Centrelink for years, under the assertion that she was single. The woman, however, had been in a long-term relationship with a wealthy share-trader. When the share-trader died in 2016, his Will bequeathed the woman would be left with a car, a $180,000 property and an extra $50,000. According to A Current Affair, the deceased left the majority of his estate to various charities.

Upon learning of the contents of the deceased’s Will, the woman began the process of contesting the Will, claiming that the arrangements made for her were not sufficient, and subsequently was forced to admit defrauding Centrelink for over 20 years. The woman has been sentenced for almost three years imprisonment, but will be released after a four months sentence with a Good Behaviour Bond.

Who can contest a Will in NSW?

The Family Provisions Act 1982 enables eligible people to contest the Will of the deceased. In order to challenge an estate, you need to meet the criteria of one of the following persons:

  • Being a spouse of the deceased, either by marriage or de-facto.
  • A child of the deceased.
  • A former husband or wife of the deceased.
  • A dependant of the deceased.
  • A grandchild of the deceased.
  • A member of the household in which the deceased resided.

If you don’t meet the above criteria, NSW and Commonwealth legislation dictates that you have no automatic claim to the estate of the deceased. However, if you believe you have a claim to all or part of the estate and choose to contest the Will, you must prove eligibility through dependency, proof of the deceased wishes or if you were once part of a household with them.

What happens if the estate is left to charity?

Anyone in Australia with the capacity to make a Will is allowed to leave their estate to any person or charity they choose. When filing a Will dispute regarding assets left to charity, an understanding of the relationship between the challenging party and the deceased needs to be established in order to determine whether a review of divisions can take place.

If you believe you have been omitted from or left insufficient provisions from a Will, get in contact with our experienced team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers for assistance in understanding the legal process and help in contesting a Will. In addition to our no win, no fee guarantee, we offer a complimentary 90-day trialof our services.

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