The complex nature of contesting wills cases

Published 28 Mar 2014

The rules and regulations that allow family members to contest a will a deceased loved one has left behind are quite complex, as the following case heard by the Supreme Court of New South Wales can attest to.

In late 2013, Natasha Kourea brought a contesting wills case against the estate of Albert Frisoli. It was eventually decided that she was, in fact, eligible to do this under the Succession Act 2006, as it transpired that she was – and had been – in a de facto relationship with Mr Frisoli for more than two years at the time of his death.

According to the Succession Act 2006, “a person with whom the deceased person was living in a de facto relationship at the time of the deceased person’s death” is allowed to get in touch with contesting wills lawyers and seek a greater portion of their loved one’s estate if they feel they have been inadequately provided for.

In order to determine whether or not two people are in a de facto relationship, the Supreme Court of New South Wales will consider a number of factors. These include the:

  • financial elements of your relationship (e.g. who contributed what, whether you have joint bank accounts, etc.);
  • nature of your household (e.g. the physical set-up of your household, how you share domestic tasks, etc.);
  • sexual relationship between you and your partner (e.g. whether it is absent or present);
  • social elements of your relationship (e.g. if your neighbours / friends see you as in a relationship, whether you take part in joint activities, etc.); and
  • nature of your commitment (e.g. how strong your emotional ties were, etc.).

Natasha evidently ticked all of the right boxes, and her contesting wills case was allowed to proceed. In addition to this, Mr Frisoli’s two children, Holden and Atlanta, decided to bring contesting wills cases against their father’s estate, too.

In the end, the Supreme Court of New South Wales ruled that Natasha would receive 50 per cent of Mr Frisoli’s estate and notional estate, while Holden and Atlanta would receive 25 per cent apiece.

The final forms of these orders gave rise to another dispute, which was heard in February 2014. As a result of this session, the original percentages were not changed. However, certain aspects of the estate – such as Mr Frisoli’s car and musical instruments – were assigned to specific recipients.

If you want to know more about contesting a will, get in touch with Gerard Malouf Partners today.

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