Schizophrenic son and his three sisters contest their father’s will

Published 08 Jun 2017

A man diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia has filed a family provision claim against his father’s will, with the plaintiff’s sisters also pursuing a greater share of the deceased’s estate.

The case was notable because all four siblings, including a daughter acting as executor to her father’s will, disagreed with the distribution of the estate, resulting in largely amicable proceedings between the beneficiaries.

According to court documents, the deceased’s assets comprised two properties worth approximately $2 million, a vehicle and household contents valued at roughly $21,000 combined and more than $624,000 in cash.

The deceased offered no provisions for two of his daughters; however, he discussed with his children the wish to divide the cash from his estate equally between them. The third daughter, the executor, carried out this order and each received over $200,000.

Meanwhile, the son was gifted the motor vehicle, furniture and other effects, as well as the right of occupation to one of the properties, which were adjacent to each other.

Siblings pursue family provision claim

The inheritance dispute arose because the deceased failed to address a number of issues regarding his estate in the will. First, all three daughters received either nothing or only residual amounts from the available assets.

Second, the son only had right of occupation of the property. The fate of these homes, should the plaintiff be unable or unwilling to live there, was left ambiguous.

Third, the deceased didn’t leave any cash to his son because he believed the plaintiff’s paranoid schizophrenia would prevent him from appropriately handling his own finances. However, the son argued that he was largely recovered from the illness and hadn’t suffered an episode in over a decade.

All four siblings therefore believed they had a claim for further provisions from the estate.

The judge’s decision

The siblings agreed that the three daughters should split the remainder of the estate – after provisions were made for the son – at a share of 40, 40 and 20 per cent between them. This settlement was reached before the case went to court.

Ultimately, the judge ruled that the son should receive a 30 per cent share of the entire estate after the sale of the primary residence, with his proportion estimated at approximately $964,000. The sisters will share the remaining 70 per cent of the estate according to the 40/40/20 split previously agreed.

Would you like to pursue a family provision claim? Contact a member of our team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Will Dispute Lawyers.

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