Inheritance Disputes

An inheritance dispute case, that was a recent decision of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, highlights the issues that can arise when challenging an inheritance where the main asset is the family home.

In Manning v Matsen [2015] NSWSC 1801-  a brother and sister fought over their entitlement to their family home after their mother passed away.

The Will appointed her son, Wayne, as her Executor and left him all household furniture and effects. In addition, the Will stated that “in the event that, she owned the Carey Bay property at the time of her death” it was to be sold and the proceeds divided equally between her daughter, Sharon, and her Wayne.

At the time of her death the mother did not own the Carey Bay property, as she had transferred it to Wayne and his wife a few years before her death, in acknowledgment of their contribution to the upkeep and maintenance of the property. This meant that the value of the deceased Estate was approximately $65,000. The Carey Bay property was valued at approximately $550,000.

Sharon brought a Family Provision Claim on her mother’s Estate, including a claim that the Carey Bay property be deemed notional estate of the deceased and therefore included as part of the deceased Estate.

Wayne opposed the Family Provision Claim arguing that, the Carey Bay property was not to be deemed notional estate of the deceased.

The Court considered the financial standing of Wayne and Sharon. In relation to Sharon the Court found that she was older, in ill health and very soon to become unemployable. Her financial situation was one that required the input of capital, to manage these issues. In relation to Wayne, the Court found that he was also older and in ill health with his casual work soon to be finished.

The Court held that Sharon was an eligible person to make the Family Provision Claim and that if they were to make an order in her favour, it would be for the sum of $75,000. The Estate, without the addition of the Carey Bay property, had insufficient funds to allow this order to be made. So as to satisfy this order, the Court would have to place an unreasonable financial burden on Wayne, by requiring them to sell the Carey Bay property. The Court was not prepared to take that step and dismissed Sharon’s Family Provision Claim.

If you need advice on an inheritance dispute, or thinking of Contesting a Will, you need to seek legal advice from an Expert Wills & Estates Lawyer. Call for an appointment at the Sydney Wills Lawyers, who will evaluate whether you have a good case to proceed successfully!  We specialise in Wills & Estate Law and pride ourselves on our open and honest communication with clients.

For an appointment phone 02 9221 2779, ask about our “No Win No Fee” policy. Our offices are conveniently located in the Sydney, CBD and close to public transport!