The saying goes, ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’ and in relation to the contesting of estates, this saying certainly proves true. The Succession Act 2006 (NSW) provides provisions for the dispute of wills and, being considered to be perhaps the most liberal testamentary law of our whole nation, allows for almost anyone to contest a will with the right basis and reasoning.
We would like to think that our final wishes and instructions would be respected; however, this is not always the case when money and assets are involved. It is assuring to know despite this, that courts have unwritten rules governing this area. In certain matters, for example, the court considers the current wealth of the people who are soon to benefit from an estate. This applied to the matter of the late Australian cricketing star, Richie Benaud. Mr Benaud’s first wife and eldest son sued his estate on the grounds of maintaining and advancing their lives. For context, the plaintiffs were both living in public housing. Prior to trial, the matter settled but it was taken into account their financial situation. This resulted in an agreed payment made to the first wife and son but still allowed for the majority of Benaud’s wishes to be granted. The case of Srgo v Thompson (2017) additionally highlights the notion of respecting the deceased person’s will. The Judge noted that the deceased is the most able person to determine who is provided for by their estate and that the adequacy of what is left to a person is not solely deemed by reference to a contester’s poor financial situation.
As a final note, making your intentions for your estate can be quite a difficult task; particularly when the very concept of our own death can make most of us understandably feel heavy of heart. It is important however, to protect the assets we wish to leave to the ones we love and care for, and so, it is common practice to leave a will.
If you require any assistance in relation to will disputes or require assistance making your will, you are welcome to contact our team of experienced will and estate lawyers by clicking here to submit an online enquiry form or call us on +61 2 9223 9166 to arrange a teleconference or appointment.