Challenging your parent’s will if they have left a larger portion of their estate to charity than to you.

Date: Nov 12, 2011
Document Type: Article

Some of the world’s super rich such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have famously left the bulk of their estate to charity and their children only a small fraction of their fortunes. Can you safely leave the majority of your estate to charity? Can you challenge your parent’s will if they have left a larger portion of their estate to charity than to you?

Certainly a deceased person is entitled to leave their estate to charity in their will. But where a deceased person leaves a will, beneficiaries and other eligible persons not provided for in the will can challenge the amount that they have been left under the Succession Act.

When deciding whether somebody should have been provided for by the testator the court will consider a number of factors including:

  • The nature of the relationship between the testator and the applicant
  • Any obligations or responsibilities owed by the testator to the applicant
  • The financial resources of the applicant
  • Any physical or intellectual disability of the applicant
  • Any provision made for the applicant by the testator while they were alive

For example, the children of Bill and Melinda Gates may have difficulty challenging the amount they have been left by their parents. Children who do not suffer from disabilities, have been provided for by their parents during their lifetime and have been left enough in the estate to provide the average person with financial support are going to find it tough to show that they have genuine need for further provision.

The situation may be different where the child of the testator is disabled in some way, has received limited financial support from their parents during their life time and/or will find it difficult to support themselves in the future. In that case the court would be more persuaded to award the child some or further provision from the testators will because that child is likely to have a genuine need for such provision.

If you are a parent planning to leave the bulk of you estate to charity it would be wise to consider whether you have allowed for adequate provision for your children.

If you are the child of a testator who you believe has not made adequate provision for you in their will you may be able to challenge their will under the Succession Act.

Note that time limits apply – so if you think you have a clam act immediately.

For advice from an experienced lawyer in this area contact Dominic Wilson on 8268 4000.

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