Appeal leads to redistribution of contested estate

Date: Mar 13, 2015

While many individuals will make a family provision claim through the courts, it is important not to assume that once a judgement has been reached there is no potential for further changes in the estate.

In fact, there are many conditions which can lead to further legal action, especially if those who are assigned responsibility for an estate following a legal dispute are unable to meet their obligations.

However, there are other times when a previous court judgment can be challenged, notably through the appeals process. For those who are unsatisfied with the outcome of an earlier decision and who have grounds for an appeal, pursuing this option can be a valuable course of action to resolve a dispute.

That was the finding from a recent court case involving a dispute over property, seen before the NSW Supreme Court. The legal action arose after an earlier decision from a lower court was challenged by the beneficiaries.

The case revolved around the distribution of a man's estate, specifically a number of pieces of farmland the man owned. The man passed away in 2011, leaving a will which provided for his wife and five of his seven children.

The original dispute began after two of the man's children lodged family provision claims against the estate. Although one was unsuccessful, the other was accepted by the court and received a provision from the estate.

Following this decision, some of the parties appealed, claiming the earlier decision had not given sufficient weight to the deceased's wishes.

The Supreme Court agreed with the arguments put forward in the appeal. In the end, it was ordered that the estate make a reduced payment to the man's daughter, lowering the amount allocated in the lower court by three-quarters.

For anyone considering a family provision claim, this case highlights the variety of steps that can be involved in an estate dispute. Taking a case to trial is just one stage in the process, with many cases resolved before this stage and others moving to appeal if there is sufficient grounds.

Anyone looking to learn more about the process of making a family provision claim will need to be sure they seek the advice of a wills and estates lawyer. They will be able to advise on the potential of your case at any stage.