The wife of a deceased man has been awarded her husband’s $60,000 Mercedes C Class car following a court decision in her favour during a family provision claim.
However, the plaintiff’s victory could be considered bittersweet, as her claim covered a range of different requests against the estate – many of which were ultimately rejected.
Her husband made several provisions for her in his will, including possession of his household furniture, furnishings and “personal effects”. This last item would be the main area of contention when she challenged the will.
The woman argued that the deceased’s personal effects should include his car, public shares in companies, money in bank accounts, cash on term deposit, and investment notes in organisations.
If successful, the wife would have significantly increase her share of the estate. The public shares were worth $1.9 million alone, while her husband’s bank accounts and term deposits added approximately $400,000.
Alternatively, these assets would be designated as the deceased’s primary estate, which he specified should divided between his three children from a previous marriage in the will.
The man’s children – two sons and a daughter – were executors of the estate, and received further provisions from their father, with one receiving a $180,000 lump sum, while the other two siblings had previous debts wiped.
The deceased also left each of his grandchildren $20,000 and allowed his wife the option of first purchase on his real estate assets.
Judge rules in inheritance dispute
The Supreme Court judge in charge of proceedings, Justice Paul Le Gay Brereton, called upon various precedent cases when making his decision.
Ultimately, he believed that while the Mercedes should be considered a personal effect, it was a stretch to assign the same definition to the deceased’s money, shares and company notes.
One of the deciding factors was a previous case in which the courts established that personal effects should consist only of physical items. As such, the motor vehicle was the only asset to meet this stipulation.
This means the wife received the car but missed out on nearly $2.5 million from the rest of the estate, which will now be divided among the deceased’s sons and daughter after debts and funeral expenses have been paid.
Despite not achieving all of the objectives of her claim, the wife was still able to increase her share of the available assets by filing a family provision claim.
If you feel a loved one has not adequately provided for you upon their death, please contact an expert contesting wills lawyer for more information on inheritance disputes.