Woman’s family provision claim over partner’s estate rejected

Published 24 Mar 2015

People who feel their share of a loved one’s estate has not adequately provided for their needs can pursue a family provision claim to secure a larger proportion of the deceased’s assets.

However, not all claims are successful and the specific circumstances of each case are key to whether or not the courts are likely to judge in the plaintiff’s favour.

For example, a woman who recently launched an inheritance dispute saw her claim dismissed after NSW Supreme Court decided the redistribution of the deceased’s assets would be unfair to other beneficiaries.

The woman was a de-facto partner of the deceased, who had left an estate worth approximately $1.25 million. The primary asset was a property at Lilyfield that had an estimated value of between $1.25 million and $1.45 million.

In his will, the testator asked for the dwelling to be sold upon his death, with the resulting money distributed to his partner and daughter. They were to receive one-third and two-thirds of the estate respectively.

The partner, who was residing at the house, said she wanted to continue living there – and claimed she should be given enough money to purchase a nearby property if this was not possible.

Contesting a will

Despite the plaintiff’s objections, the judge decided that the woman had been adequately provided for in her partner’s will, particularly as she was already financially secure.

On the other hand, the deceased’s daughter had an unstable and inconsistent financial status, with negligible taxable income in the preceding years.

While the courts acknowledged that the partner was approaching retirement age, it was important to note that she had assets worth more than $1 million following the distribution of the existing will.

Justice Michael Pembroke also said the nature of her relationship to the deceased was important, drawing specific attention to the fact they did not share financial arrangements.

Furthermore, the plaintiff’s own will did not make provisions for her partner. Instead, she named her three sisters and a nephew as the beneficiaries of her assets.

As such, Justice Pembroke dismissed the woman’s claim and said he would hear submissions regarding who should pay costs.

This case highlights the importance of hiring an expert contesting wills lawyer who can tell you how likely you are to win a family provision claim.

No-win, no-fee legal representation also means you won’t be left dealing with the costs of an unsuccessful case if the courts do not rule in your favour.

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