What to do with Competing Family Provision Claims is something for a legal expert to advise upon. It can become a battle of Wills and therefore can become quite complex. See the example below of a real-life case where a battle of wills needed expert legal advice!
The recent decision of the NSW Supreme Court in Estate Pascale  considered what happens when there are numerous competing claims on a deceased Estate. The deceased was involved in four long-term relationships during his life made up of three marriages and one long term de facto relationship. There were two children from his first marriage being a daughter Patricia (aged 52 years) and a son Claude (aged 55 years). There was one child from his second marriage being Jean-Louis (aged 32 years).
Subsequent to his second marriage the deceased lived in a long term de facto relationship with Ms Gao and there was one chid of this relationship being Laura (aged 15 years).
After the end of this de facto relationship the deceased married for the third time to Ms Vana. Ms Vana had three children from a previous relationship.
The deceased’s Estate was valued at about $770,000 and was distributed in his Will as follows:
- Ms Gao, his de facto partner, received $10,000;
- 50% of the remainder of the Estate was left to Ms Vana, his widow; and
- The remaining 50% of the Estate was left to his daughter, Laura (whose mother was Ms Gao) on Laura obtaining the age of 21 years.
There were three family provision claims made on the deceased’s Estate from:
- Patricia, the deceased’s daughter from his first marriage;
- Jean-Louis, the deceased’s son from his second marriage; and
- Ms Gao, the deceased’s de facto partner and mother of Laura.
The family provision claims were in competition with the entitlements left to the deceased’s widow Ms Vana and the deceased’s daughter Laura under the Will.
The Court agreed that all applicants were eligible people under the Succession Act and that they had all been left without adequate provision by the deceased. However, competing with these applications was the strength of the claims of Ms Vana, the deceased widow and the deceased’s daughter Laura. The Court found that the claims of Jean-Louis and Patricia were on par and subordinate to the claims of Ms Gao, Ms Vana and Laura. The Court further found that Ms Gao’s claim, whilst greater than the claims of Jean-Louis and Patricia, were less than the claims of Ms Vana and Laura.
The Court made the following orders in relation to the distribution of the deceased’s Estate:
- Jean-Louis and Patricia to each receive $60,000.
- Ms Gao to receive $100,000.
The legacies to Jean-Louis, Patricia and Ms Gao, totalling $220,000, were to be borne equally by Ms Vana and Laura thus reducing their inheritance by $110,000 each.
Graeme Heckenberg is an expert Wills & Estates lawyer and will be able to guide and advise you on Family Provision Claims.
If you are living on the Northern Beaches and surrounding Peninsula and need expert advice, call The Northern Beaches Lawyer today for an appointment close to home on:- 9221 0341
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