Past financial support leads to family provision claim

Published 06 Aug 2014

A recent family provision claim has successfully passed through the Supreme Court of NSW, despite the plaintiff being a former de facto partner of the deceased.

While the relationship had ended about three decades before the man’s death, the woman made the decision to contest the will due to her continued reliance on her former partner’s estate. Despite gifting the woman thousands of dollars throughout the time they were separated, the deceased had made no provision for her in his will.

Worth more than $5 million, the Supreme Court decided the estate of the deceased was “large enough to accommodate an order for provision of the dimension sought by the plaintiff”. Overall, the woman was seeking $500,000 to support herself financially.

There were many important factors taken into consideration when deciding on the outcome of this case. These included the relationship between the woman and her son, past gifts made by the deceased and the financial standing of the plaintiff.

How did the Court reach its decision?

Firstly, the Court had to decide whether the woman was an ‘eligible person’ under the Succession Act. While there was no relationship between the plaintiff and the deceased at the time of death, the woman had at one time been reliant on her former partner for financial support. This meant that she was in fact an eligible person.

Secondly, the woman provided proof that the deceased had intended to care for her financially and that she relied on his funds to maintain her way of life. It was discovered that the man had indeed gifted the woman a number of cheques worth many thousands of dollars over the years, demonstrating an ongoing financial relationship.

Next, the Supreme Court investigated the relationship between the woman and her own son – whose father was the deceased. The son was one of the three primary benefactors on his father’s estate, so it was possible that he would be able to care for his mother, rather than allow her any provision in the will.

However, it was found that the connection between the two was strained, which meant the woman could not reasonably be expected to approach her son for support.

Because of these factors, the Court decided that the deceased had left his former partner without adequate provision. An order was therefore made for the plaintiff to be awarded a legacy of $350,000.

If you believe you have been inadequately provided for in a former partner’s will, contact a contesting wills lawyer for more information on family provision claims today.

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