Woman in de facto relationship wins inheritance dispute

Published 04 Nov 2014

A woman will receive $350,000 from her deceased partner’s will after she filed a family provision claim following his death.

She was in a de facto relationship with her male companion for 16.5 years prior to him passing away, but received nothing in his will. Instead, the $1.29 million estate went to the man’s two sons.

The woman had received $229,061 in death benefits from her de-facto partner’s superannuation fund, while the two sons were given $129,498 each.

According to NSW Supreme Court records, she was also a joint tenant in a property that her and her partner shared. Upon his death, she took ownership of the home, which was valued at approximately $1.5 million.

However, the inheritance dispute arose when she failed to receive further provisions in the will. The woman submitted a proposal for $660,000 from the estate.

The deceased’s sons claimed an alternative arrangement would be more appropriate, instead offering to clear the outstanding mortgage on the property she had inherited.

Factors in contesting a will

The inheritance dispute raised a number of issues, including the fact that the 59-year-old woman was coming to the end of her working life. Her expenses were also currently higher than her income.

She suffers certain medical problems, including an injury to her left shoulder, nerve root entrapment to the cervical spine, arthritis, and claustrophobia. The woman also claimed she had depression and anxiety following her partner’s death.

The judge also considered the health of the two sons. The younger brother has bipolar disorder and arthritis, the medication for which had severe side effects. The older sibling suffers from no notable mental or physical ailments.

The court decided that the woman was eligible to make a family provision claim, and she was able to prove that she was in a loving, long-term relationship with the deceased. It was also noted that she contributed financially to the relationship while the decedent was alive.

She also took three months off work to care for her partner when he experienced an episode of deep vein thrombosis in 2000.

As such, the judge said the will did not provide adequate provisions for her upon his death and awarded the lump sum of $350,000. This was less than the submitted request of $660,000 due to the property and superannuation she originally received.

If you would like to contest a will in NSW, please contact a specialist lawyer to see whether your claim is likely to be successful.

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