Two sisters have won a family provision claim after they challenged their deceased father’s will. The siblings believed their dad failed to adequately provide for them from his estate upon his death – and NSW Supreme Court agreed.
Both women had a strained relationship with their father, who separated from their mother in 1961 and married another woman four years later. In fact, there was no communication between the sisters and their father until 1978, when their mother passed on his telephone number to initiate contact.
Despite the occasional Christmas and birthday card, the relationship between the sisters and their father never substantially improved and neither woman was on good terms with the deceased at the time of his death.
As such, he left his entire estate to his spouse’s niece and nephew. After legal costs and expenses, this amounted to approximately $291,600.
Challenging the will
While it was clear the relationship between the sisters and their father was not strong, this did not prevent them from making a family provision claim.
The judge agreed that neither woman had been adequately provided for, particularly as they had been left out of the deceased’s will entirely, with no reasoning offered for the decision.
When deciding how much money to give the two sisters, the courts took a number of factors into consideration, including their health, employment prospects and the size of the estate.
The older sister, aged 56, was thought to be in greater need as she did not cohabit with anyone and had no other financial support other than a pension. Her sibling, aged 54, was married and currently employed.
The deceased assets, largely comprising a property that was sold for $400,000, were considered extremely modest. This was further depleted by legal costs from both the defendants and the plaintiffs.
From the remaining $291,600, the older sister received $90,000 and the younger sister was given $60,000. The remainder of the estate was divided between the niece and nephew of the deceased’s spouse, as the original will intended.
The outcome of the case highlights the importance of pursuing an inheritance dispute for those who feel they are entitled to a share of a family member’s estate – even when a relationship is strained.
Contact a contesting wills lawyer if you would like more information on whether or not a family provision claim is the right move in your circumstances.