Did you know the courts can override your will?
Find out what happened when a woman gifted a home to her son, but the estate was challenged by a daughter she hadn’t spoken to for 20 years.
Did you know some deliberately excluded people have a right to challenge your will?
The trouble began when the son received a letter from his sister’s lawyer, after the mother’s death. Naturally, he was surprised. How could she (the sister) expect to receive a 50% share of their mother’s estate, when the mother deliberately left everything to him and clearly intended to exclude her? His sister was not included in the will.
His sister hadn’t spoken to their mother for over 20 years after a disagreement about a substantial loan the mother had provided to her. The sister was refusing to repay the loan even though she had a new car, nice home, and had enjoyed overseas trips in recent years.
The sister’s last words to her mother were to the effect “I owe you nothing and never want to see you again”. Our client, on the other hand, looked after his mother for many years and bought a unit in the same street to provide daily support. He regularly took leave from work to attend medical appointments with her.
After considering recent court decisions in similar situations, our client decided to settle the sister’s claim out of court and pay the sister a sum of money. Thankfully it wasn’t the 50% she was chasing, but still a substantial amount. Unfortunate to think this whole situation could have been avoided had the mother obtained professional advice and restructured her assets prior to dying.
The out of court settlement avoided the massive legal fees that would have been incurred if a court trial had eventuated. Court fees are usually paid from the estate, so he couldn’t win either way.
His mother had innocently overlooked one important step when she prepared her will. Often there are additional estate planning considerations required in addition to preparing a will.
Often drafting your will is only part of the story when it comes to leaving a bigger, longer-lasting legacy.
Your will distributes the assets held within your Estate. Proper planning before you die can ensure valuable assets are kept beyond the reach of estate challenges.
When an estate is successfully challenged the court decides how your estate is distributed even though they don’t really know you, your family or your relationships.
Our advice, plan your estate and organise your assets wisely.
Meet some of our will, estate planning and estate litigation, clients.
Hear about how they’ve overcome obstacles in their quest to leave a bigger, longer-lasting legacy.
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