A recent family provision claim heard by the New South Wales Supreme Court is a great example of just how many variables can make their way into such a case, and why it’s so important to have a reputable contesting wills lawyer.
The claim can be traced back to the death of George Theoctistou, who died in August 2011 at the age of 84. In his February 2011 will, the deceased left $50,000 to his four sons, and the rest of the estate to his 86-year-old widow.
One of the four sons, Anthony, filed the claim to argue that Bessy, the widow who was not the biological parent of Anthony, had received too high a share. Theoctistou had been married twice, having two sons with each wife. The other three sons did not file any claim against Bessy.
The estate noted in the will, which was to be left to Theoctistou’s widow, included two home units, which were effectively transferred to the defendant upon the death of Theoctistou. The $50,000 outlined in the will was also delivered to each of the four sons.
Relationships play a large part in family provision claims
The court closely examined the relationships between Anthony and his stepmother, as well as each of their respective relationships with other members of the family.
The court determined that the plaintiff had a “close and loving relationship with his father throughout his life”, but also looked into his own relationships and marital history. This was to determine if either of his two marriages may have had an influence on his decision to file the claim.
Once this was conducted, the court then looked into the personal circumstances of the plaintiff. This showed that Anthony and his wife are currently struggling with large amounts of debt, and his health prevents him from working full time.
“They appear to me, both of them, to be conscientious working-class people who have tried, and are continuing to try, to do the best they can with the hand they have been dealt,” the presiding judge stated.
The court also looked at Bessy’s personal circumstances, but in the end the judge ordered that Anthony should receive $250,000 from the estate in addition to the $50,000 that was given to him in the will.
Such a family provision claim shows how important it is to get in touch with contesting wills lawyers to ensure the process goes as smoothly and successfully as possible.