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What is a Crisp order and how could it affect my claim?

Family provision claims enable eligible people to challenge a will if they feel they have not received a fair share of the deceased’s assets. Every case is different; some individuals believe the amount they’ve received from the estate is inadequate, while others may have been left out of the will entirely.

A Crisp order is an instruction from the court that is designed to ensure claimants are given sufficient provisions from a will without unfairly prejudicing other beneficiaries. For example, the NSW Supreme Court recently issued a Crisp order in relation to a family provision claim that an elderly widow pursued.

Named after the Crisp v Burns Philp Trustee Company case, these instructions typically give the plaintiff a portable life interest in real estate or property that the deceased owned. To better explain how this works, let’s look at a hypothetical example.

Crisp order scenario

A man dies leaving a $500,000 property and $250,000 in other assets. His will states that his widow has a life estate on the property, while the remaining assets will be distributed between his three children.

Life estates mean that the recipient can reside at and derive profits from the property until they die or, in many instances, move to a different location. If these situations occur, ownership of the property will often be passed on to other beneficiaries.

However, if the life estate beneficiary is forced to move into a care facility or retirement village, for example, they would lose their home and may receive no other provisions from the will. This could leave the individual in financial difficulty and without the funds to secure new accommodation.

A judge can therefore issue a Crisp order to ensure the beneficiary has ample provisions in these circumstances.

How does Crisp orders work?

The order will often allow the plaintiff to continue living in the property until a time when they wish to move. At this point, the individual can then choose to receive some of the home’s value in order to find somewhere new to reside.

In the above example, the judge may rule that the widow should receive $350,000 of the property’s $500,000 price tag to pay for her new living arrangements. Any remaining money would go to other beneficiaries, as originally stipulated in the will. This way, the testator’s final wishes and the widow’s right to adequate provisions are better fulfilled.

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Contesting Wills
 — Gerard Malouf & Partners

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