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Many people come to us for advice and guidance when they believe that they have been unjustly left out of a Will or without sufficient provision.
On the flipside, however, we also have clients who come to us when someone is putting in a claim trying to dispute their share of an inheritance.
In this example, we represented “Mark”, when his father “John” had died unexpectedly.
John had left a valid will in which he left a significant cash gift to his female companion“Kerri”, and the bulk of his estate to his Mark, who he had also appointed as Executor of the Will.
Despite receiving a sizeable legacy, Kerri contested the will on the basis that it did not adequately provide for her proper maintenance, education and advancement in life under the Family Provision Act 1969 (ACT).
Separately, she also challenged the decision of John’s super fund to distribute his death benefit to Mark—a reminder once again of the importance of binding nominations for superannuation funds.
John and Kerri had a reasonably long relationship. However, they never lived together in a shared household or intermingled any financial arrangements. Both had adult children from previous relationships.
We were able to highlight significant issues with the evidence put forward by Kerri. For example, she described herself as ‘single’ for official purposes and for her own estate plans. She had also nominated that her super only go to her children—with no provision for John.
We were also able to establish that Kerri simply didn’t have any real financial need. We obtained documents showing that she had received financial advice to the effect that she had sufficient funds to meet her retirement needs in full and would still be able to leave a substantial inheritance for her own children.
In effect, if Kerri had been successful with her claim and got anything further from John’s estate then those funds would most likely pass to her children, as she had no need for them in her lifetime.
Ultimately, the matter was settled out of court on terms favourable for Mark.
This example highlights the importance of reviewing your estate planning on entering new relationships. It’s also really important to use a lawyer who specialises in estate litigation if you find yourself having to defend a claim or make a claim in relation to a deceased estate.
If you believe you have grounds to contest a will or want to protect your share of an inheritance, please contact our Wills and Estates team. Email email@example.com or call 02 6279 4444.