Grandsons look to skip line of succession by contesting a will

Published 28 Feb 2014

A recent case heard by the Supreme Court of New South Wales saw two adult grandsons hoping to skip the line of succession by contesting a will their grandfather made about seven years before he passed away.

The judge called it a “sorry case” that involved at least one man – Robert Wilcox – with a “highly developed and unhealthy sense of entitlement”.

When Ian Francis Sanderson put together his will on August 21, 2002, he left the bulk of his assets – “a number of pastoral properties at Walgett” – to his daughter, Patricia Anne Wilcox. The judge said this decision was “reasonable and natural”.

Ms Wilcox is the mother of Robert Wilcox, one of the adult grandsons spearheading this contesting wills case. He basically wanted the assets mentioned in the will to bypass his mother and go straight to him instead.

The judge conjectured the reason Mr Sanderson had not left anything to his grandsons in his will was that he “anticipated that his daughter would, in all probability, eventually pass on the properties, or a substantial portion of them, to her sons”.

“He [Mr Sanderson] was content to leave that question ultimately for his daughter’s judgement.”

Instead of waiting for events “to run their natural course”, Robert Wilcox and his brother decided to get contesting wills lawyers involved.

While the judge was clearly not in favour of the case, he said that under the Succession Act 2006 (New South Wales) the grandsons were certainly entitled to contest the will their grandfather made.

Mr Wilcox’s brother’s claim was immediately dismissed, but the Supreme Court of New South Wales was left to determine which assets, if any, were to be granted to Robert Wilcox.

The transcript from the Supreme Court session reveals that Mr Wilcox would not accept a monetary award from his grandfather’s estate – instead, he was gunning for some or all of his grandfather’s pastoral properties.

The judge maintained for the majority of the session that Mr Sanderson did right to leave his pastoral properties to his daughter, who may or may not leave them to her sons in her own will. He also looked into Robert Wilcox’s financial situation, claiming it was modest and not utterly desperate.

Eventually, the judge decided to grant Mr Wilcox the amount of $387,000 from his grandfather’s estate. This may not be the pastoral properties he was after, but it’s still a good sum and outcome.

If you need to contest a will, get in touch with Gerard Malouf Partners today.

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