Understanding moral obligation and family provision claims

Published 11 Apr 2014

When deciding whether you are eligible to make family provision claims, the Courts will often consider the moral obligation of the deceased to provide for you financially.

While in many cases moral obligation is assumed, there are a number of factors that can impact on the Courts’ decision regarding your eligibility.

When is moral obligation assumed?

Typically, the deceased is assumed to have held a moral obligation for any spouse or life partner they were in a relationship with at the time of their death. Additionally, any children or adopted dependants may also assume the deceased was morally obliged to provide for them. This includes any children of a de facto relationship with the deceased.

In certain cases, grandchildren or any person who was at any time a member of the deceased’s household may also be eligible to make a family provision claim or contest a will if is proven these individuals were, at a particular time, wholly or partially dependent upon the deceased.

However, in order for moral obligation to be relevant, the Courts must agree that it would be appropriate for the deceased to provide for you financially.

In order to do this, the Courts will review your financial situation and standing in life. If they believe the deceased was morally obliged to provide for your maintenance, education and advancement in life, you will be able to file a family provisional claim.

What will affect moral obligation?

Even when you are directly related to the deceased, the Courts may decide there is no moral obligation to provide for you financially.

This is a common result when the Courts discover the claimant was estranged from the deceased in some way. Typically, children who have had little to no contact with the deceased through his or her final years is considered to have a weak moral claim.

However, even when no contact has been made between family members, this does not prohibit the individual from making a claim under the Family Provisions Act. This is because nonexistence of a relationship is not the deciding factor in claims made on an estate.

Instead, the Courts will also review the claimant’s financial standing, as well as the size of the estate and any competing claims. Only once all of these factors have been taken into account will the Courts consider the needs of all beneficiaries of the estate and make a decision regarding the family provision claims.

For more information on moral obligation and estate disputes, get in touch with a contesting wills lawyer today.

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