Helen was one of four who survived her mother*.
Mum died in August 2010 aged 92.
Her Will left most of $350,000 to two of her children.
Helen missed out because she hadn’t spoken with Mum for 20 years.
Helen was an impoverished pensioner in need of financial support. She wanted money from her mother’s estate.
After learning that she was cut out of the Will, Helen made a Family Provision Claim in the Supreme Court.
How did the Court view their 20 years of estrangement? Was Helen successful in making her claim?
The Court considered Helen and her mother’s relationship. It found that:
- In the 1980s, Helen lived with her mother for two years without paying rent.
- There had been arguments during which Helen had screamed at her mother and verbally abused her.
- Helen even threw half a jug of coffee at her mother when she was 69 years old.
- Mum evicted Helen from her home as she feared for her safety and peace. The mother had been deprived of the use and enjoyment of her own home.
- Helen moved and did not inform her mother of her address or marriage.
- Mum was not invited to the wedding.
- Helen changed her name because she was upset with her mother and wanted a new life.
- The mother continued to live at the same home unit but received no contact from Helen.
- Helen made no attempt to contact her mother.
- She severed all ties.
The Supreme Court dismissed Helen’s claim.
She was ordered to pay her legal costs estimated to be $35,000 to $45,000.
Estrangement does not always lead to a failed Family Provision claim. There are cases involving estrangement where the Court ordered provisions to be made to claimants.
The Court will consider the facts and circumstances of each case, as well as the Deceaseds’ wishes, in deciding if further provision is justified.
If you need your Will reviewed, are considering contesting a Will, or if you are concerned about your family members challenging your Will, we encourage you to contact Bay Legal on (02) 9344 0682 to discuss your options.
* Underwood v Gaudron  NSWSC 1055