The willmaker was survived by 4 adult children. When the willmaker died he left his $2.25 million estate to 3 of his 4 children. The excluded son, John contested his father’s will claiming his father had failed to make adequate provision for him in the Will. The executors of the Will opposed John’s claim for the following reasons:
(1) John had deliberately estranged himself from his father, and indeed his mother, for most of his life, causing them both great distress; and
(2) John had no need for provision out of his father’s estate, because of his and his wife’s existing personal wealth.
As a child of the deceased John was an “eligible person” to seek to make a family provision claim against his father’s estate. Having met this initial criterion, the Court was required to determine whether there was inadequate provision for John’s “proper maintenance, education and advancement in life”. What is proper means “proper in all the circumstances of the case” taking into account matters such as competing claims on the estate, the needs of the applicant and the testator’s ability to meet such claims having regard to the size of the estate.
The Court held that the provision was not inadequate for John for a number of reasons. Firstly, John had substantial assets already about double the size of the willmaker’s estate, from which provision was being sought. Secondly, this estate was one upon which the beneficiaries of the Will had real and genuine claims. The Court could see “no reason to diminish at all the entitlement of any of the other beneficiaries in this estate, who (as to at least two of them) suffer real and oppressing financial concerns of their own and whose asset positions are considerably less advantageous than John and his wife”. The beneficiaries’ interests weighed heavily in the Court’s view against the notion of any reduction of their share in the estate in John’s favour. The Court found this last consideration to be even stronger when the “tumultuous family history” was taken into account finding that John was the “prime aggressive mover in creating family chaos and disharmony over the years”.
If you have you been left out of a Will, or you are an Executor who is faced with defending a Will, you need to seek professional legal advice. At Everingham Solomons we have the expertise and experience to assist you with all issues relating to Estates because Helping You is Our Business.
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