Son awarded $500,000 in family provision claim decision

Published 20 Jan 2015

A man has been awarded $500,000 from his mother’s estate after launching a successful family provision claim.

The plaintiff’s mother, who died in 2012, left her assets to her husband in a 1962 will. However, he predeceased her in 2007, meaning the estate was divided equally between the plaintiff and his brother and sister.

According to Supreme Court documents, the estate was worth $2.3 million, although over half of this had already been distributed between the three siblings before the claim was launched. The plaintiff received no actual cash from these payouts because he owed debts towards the estate.

These costs were primarily associated with extended litigation the plaintiff undertook to remove his mother from a care home in the final years of her life.

At the time he filed a family provision claim, the man had no tertiary qualifications, no superannuation fund and only a few thousand dollars in his bank accounts.

He also suffered from permanent psychiatric impairments that prevented him from seeking gainful employment. Furthermore, the plaintiff had lived with his parents throughout his life and was considered totally dependent on them.

Under the original terms of the will, the 52-year-old was due to receive a further $294,000 from the estate, but argued he had not been adequately provided for.

Outcome of inheritance dispute

When considering the evidence, the courts took into account many factors. These included the fact that the plaintiff had received significant financial support from his parents during their lives, including $300,000 towards failed business ventures.

He had strained relationships with his siblings, who claimed his visits to their mother in a nursing home in the final years of her life “were upsetting to her”.

However, the plaintiff did provide support for his elderly parents in the years preceding their deaths, and an independent witness claimed the mother had expressed her wish to leave her son the family home.

Ultimately, the courts decided that the estate had not offered adequate provisions for the plaintiff, particularly as he was in an extremely precarious financial position.

The unlikelihood of him finding work combined with a lack of insight into his mental health problems were considered key factors.

As such, the judge awarded him an additional $500,000 from the estate, of which $380,000 was set aside for purchasing a property in St Marys in Sydney.

The remainder was divided into payments for a vehicle ($15,000), dental work ($15,000) and unforeseen circumstances ($90,000).

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