Supreme Court rules against early inheritance for grandchildren

Published 27 Jan 2015

Four grandchildren have been prevented from accessing a share of their grandmother’s estate until they are 45 years old.

The Supreme Court upheld a clause in the deceased’s will that outlined the age restriction as part of the terms for releasing money from her $4 million estate.

According to the will, the grandmother’s son would receive property “for his sole use and benefit” upon her death provided he met certain conditions. However, the residue of her assets would be divided among any grandchildren who survived her and reached 45.

The executors sought clarification from the courts as to whether or not the grandchildren should be granted early access to their share of the estate without having to wait until they are 45. The eldest is currently 26 years old.

While the grandchildren consented to the early distribution of assets, their father was opposed to the motion, making him the defendant in this inheritance dispute.

A separate clause in the will allowed the money to be released before the grandchildren turned 45, but only if the deceased’s trustees agreed the cash would be used for the education, maintenance or advancement of a beneficiary.

Inheritance dispute decision

The judge decided there was no reason to ignore the instructions outlined in the will, confirming that the grandchildren would need to wait until they are 45 years old to benefit from their share of the estate.

Justice Hallen said the executors of the will should not divide and distribute any assets until the provisions laid out in the document were met in full.

However, he added that these conditions could be waived if the father consented to early release beforehand.

“The gift is not to the named grandchildren, but the named grandchildren who shall attain 45 years of age,” he explained.

“In other words, there is, presently, no named grandchild who completely answers the description which the deceased has given to those who are to be residuary beneficiaries.”

The legal costs for both the plaintiffs and the defendant were taken from the residuary estate of the deceased.

While the grandchildren were unsuccessful in this particular case, contesting a will can often lead to a positive result for the plaintiff, especially if a loved one fails to adequately provide for them.

This is why contacting a specialist wills lawyer in NSW is vital for anyone hoping to resolve an inheritance dispute.

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