Millionaire’s body to be exhumed in inheritance dispute

Published 26 Jun 2014

The importance of DNA testing in some inheritance disputes has led to the decision to exhume an Austrian millionaire who passed away in 2007.

With an estate worth more than 10 million Euro (AUS$14.5 million), it is perhaps unsurprising that various relatives came forward to receive their share of the assets when the man passed away. However, this case holds some challenging factors, particularly due to the nature of the plaintiff’s claim on the estate.

When the man passed away, he left his entire estate to his only son and daughter. Then a man in Holland came forward claiming he was the biological son of the deceased and deserved a share in the estate.

The man told the District Court in Dornbirn, located in the Austrian state of Vorarlberg, that he was born in Vorarlberg but grew up in Holland after being adopted. When trying to find his biological father in 2008, his research led him to the deceased.

While the son and daughter named in the will believe the man’s claim is false, the District Court in Dornbirn has agreed to comply with the plaintiff’s wishes and exhume the deceased’s body for DNA testing. This extreme measure was necessary after the son and daughter, denying any possibility of a sibling, each refused to provide a sample of saliva for the tests.

According to local press publications, the son defending the will of his father has reportedly threatened the life of the adopted man, particularly if he was granted approval to exhume the father’s grave. Police have since taken the son into questioning.

DNA testing in Australia

DNA testing systems are an important tool in helping resolve inheritance disputes and family provision claims. Often, when estranged or adopted children choose to contest a will, the Court is required to confirm their relationship with the deceased.

By submitting to a voluntary DNA test, plaintiffs can easily prove their biological connection to a family. Family provision claims can be drawn out and complicated affairs, so any measure to help smooth out this process is important.

However, even once biological relationships have been confirmed, the Supreme Court of NSW is still entitled to make judgements on a person’s eligibility to claim on an estate. In some cases, children or family members who have had little to no involvement in the deceased’s life will be denied a share in the estate, particularly if the value of the assets is small.

Contact contesting wills lawyers today for more information on inheritance disputes and family provision claims.

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