Lesley McDonnell“[T]he complexity which attaches to family relationships” is never more apparent than in the arena of family provision cases. For one Queensland family “the bonds of family life were tested to extremes”, leaving some of the children “hurt and resentful by the actions of their father [the deceased]”. This case is significant because it is the largest provision order made ($3,000,000) by a Queensland Court to date.

The deceased died in 2010 aged 78 years leaving a will made in 2000 and codicil in 2008. The deceased left behind a wife and children and a $27,000,000 estate. The applicant in this case was Steven, a son of the deceased. The deceased named his widow, Jane as executor of his Will and left her the majority of his estate save only for some real estate left to one son, Jonathon. The deceased made no provision for Steven or his daughters, Natasha or Tania setting out reasons for each in the Will.

There were three other applications for provision made by Jonathon, Tania and Natasha. Each of them was settled out of Court.

Steven contested his father’s Will arguing that his father failed to make adequate provision for him in the Will. Steven relied upon the work he had undertaken over many years for his father, and the extent to which that work assisted in the amassing of the estate. Also Steven had been involved in a motorcycle accident prior to his father’s death, sustaining injuries that prevented Steven from working as a pilot and restricted him performing physical work.

The Court’s role was to determine whether Steven had been left without adequate provision for his proper maintenance, education and advancement in life. There were a number of factors that the Court was required to take into account. The following factors were persuasive for the Court in finding that Steven had been left without adequate provision:-

(a) The estate was very large.

(b) Steven worked long and hard for his father and contributed to the growth of his father’s property interests.

(c) At the date of death Steven had substantial assets but also had substantial liabilities which were subject to the vagaries of the financial market.

(d) Two of the reasons for the deceased not providing for Steven in the will were either misconceived or based on a misunderstanding of their value.

(e) Steven‘s injury meant he could no longer be a pilot and he could not perform labouring work on his own properties.

(f) The provision made during the deceased‘s lifetime was subject to Steven entering into debt in order to obtain the benefit of the properties. In other words, what was received was not a gift but, in effect, a discounted sale.

At Everingham Solomons we have the expertise and experience to assist you in all aspects of family provision claims because Helping You is Our Business.

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