Where There Is A Will There Is A Way

In NSW, since 2005, the disposal by the Supreme Court of disputes over wills has risen by almost 60%.

This increase is due to the Law under the Family Provisions Act, requiring the Court to consider the objective intentions of the deceased as at the date of death and not the actual intentions of the deceased.

The statistics are the tip of the iceberg. The statistics below show the cases disposed of by the court. Most matters, in the vicinity of 95% of all claims, are settled either by the parties or at mediation. These are not reflected in the statistics.

Where there is a will there is a way

The claims often irretrievably destroy family relations.

The increase can be seen to arise from the growth in blended families, with multiple children and grandchildren from second or even third marriages and defacto partners. For example, in a recent Supreme Court case 46 year old Robert Wilcox made a $1.1 million claim on his grandfather’s $5.5 million rural estate, which had been left to his mother.

Despite not having worked in agriculture since 2001, the court found he was entitled to some money and ordered he be paid $107,000 to clear a tax debt.

In the 2013 Supreme Court case, Jagoe v Maguire, John Jagoe brought a claim against the will of his late wife, who had left her $1.3 million estate to her four children from her first marriage.

The judgement by Justice Philip Hallen refers to family members abusing each other in court, bickering over a $10,000 Datsun and one beneficiary suffering mental illness attributed to “inter-family conflict and the siblings arguing”.

“Emotions during the cases were, understandably raw and painful,” he wrote.

“Hopefully, the termination of the proceedings by judgement will settle the hostility that has rocked the family since the death of the deceased.”

To avoid family disputes, planning your will thoroughly is essential. Please email sbrown@etiennelaw.com or phone 1300 832 032. For further information on Estate Planning and Wills please click here.