The New South Wales Supreme Court recently decided on a case in which the plaintiff filed a family provision claim to argue that he deserved a cut of a piece of land that was left behind in a family member’s will.
Plaintiff Steven Stojanovski filed the claim against his sister-in-law, Angelina Stojanovski, who is married to Steven’s brother, Robert. Steven and Robert are both the children of Nada Stojanovski, who passed away in 2006 and left a will that included large real estate properties.
It was understood that Robert would receive a large portion of the properties that Nada owned while alive. However, Steven was granted some of the properties, provided that he lived in one and used the others to earn an income. After Nada’s death, Robert refused to give up his share of one property, which was one of the first instances of litigation stemming from the will.
The first round of litigation resulted in the signing of a Deed of Release in June 2009, though this act came with several conditions, including the removal of caveat that stipulated Steven’s estranged wife could gain access to the land that was given to him.
The complexities of family provision claims
As the case drew on, it was clear that any conclusion would likely come with new conditions that would have to be met. The very nature of family provision claims is such that anyone who feels they may be owed a piece of an estate.
This may include spouses, de facto spouses, children of the deceased, a former spouse, grandchildren, a dependent or even a close friend.
The case of the Stojanovski family is a great example of how these claims can quickly become convoluted with conditions that must be met, often leading to further litigation as more extended family members make their case.
The result of the latest stint in court showed the caveats that were made to the previous rulings regarding who should receive the most contentious properties in question would not be extended.
However, the court did allow Steven to “file fresh caveats today in conformity with these reasons”, which will likely pave the way for more litigation in the future.
The Stojanovski case is a great example of why it’s important to consult with contesting wills lawyers before entering into a potentially long and complex court case.