Legal Hypothetical – Claim on estate after 30 year estrangement


Claim on estate after 30 year estrangement

Ray and his wife adopt a child named Edward, who is 6 months old.

When Edward is 14 years old, Ray and his wife separate.

Ray’s relationship with Edward diminishes from minimal to non-existent contact until Ray passes away, 30 years later.

Edward discovers that Ray made a Will, leaving the whole of his estate to charity. Ray’s estate is valued at $600,000.

Edward makes a family provision claim against Ray’s estate, seeking half of Ray’s estate.

The Court notes that an adopted child is eligible to make a claim.

In defence of Edward’s claim, it is submitted to the Court that Edward never attempted to maintain a meaningful relationship with Ray and that he bore some responsibility for the poor state of the relationship.

An examination of Edward’s financial circumstances, reveals that he owns a home with only a small mortgage owing on the property, earns $100,000 per year, has $200,000 in superannuation, $50,000 in savings and no dependents.

The defence argues that Edward does not have sufficient financial needs to warrant the making of an order of anything more than enough to pay out his mortgage of $60,000.

The Court also hears that during his lifetime, Ray performed volunteer work for the charity and donated regularly, and on this basis accepts that it was understandable for Ray to leave the whole of his estate to the charity.

Nonetheless, the Court also accepts that despite an estrangement of some 30 years, in the circumstances, Edward had a moral claim on Ray’s estate.

Ultimately, the Court makes an order that Edward receive the sum of $160,000 from Ray’s estate and that the estate pay the bulk of his legal costs.

If YOU would like a particular issue addressed, please email Manny at [email protected] or call him on (02) 6648 7487.


By Manny WOOD, Solicitor

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