Legal Hypothetical: Court’s balancing act in disputed Will

HARRY passes-away leaving an estate worth $3 million.

Harry’s will, prepared 30 years ago, leaves his whole estate to his son, George.

He makes no provision for his three daughters.

The three daughters make “family provision” claims against Harry’s estate.

At the hearing, the daughters ask the Court to award each of them $600,000 and express the view that it is appropriate for them to be treated equally.

There is no evidence as to why Harry chose to disinherit his daughters.

George submits that the daughters should not be treated equally and suggests that given their respective financial needs, they should only be entitled to receive amounts ranging between $100,000 and $300,000.

During the course of the hearing, the Court hears that George worked on the family farm for many decades.

The Court also hears that the three daughters grew-up on the farm and after moving-out, there were periods of estrangement between them and their father.

George states that he wishes to continue to operate the family farm, although the Court notes that at the time of hearing, George is in his 60s and the farm is no longer profitable.

The Court hears that one of the daughters will soon require a placement in a nursing home and accordingly, the payment of a substantial bond.

Another daughter has substantial health problems and wishes to pay-off her mortgage with a view to retiring.

The other daughter is gainfully employed but her home, which needs substantial repairs, is subject to a mortgage and she has very little superannuation.

The Court states that it is a difficult task to properly balance the claims of all the parties and although it is not the Court’s role to re-write Harry’s will, on the basis of “community expectations” and Harry’s “moral duty” to each of his children, orders lump-sum payments of $600,000, $450,000 and $300,000 to each of the plaintiff daughters.

Email Manny Wood, Principal Solicitor and Accredited Specialist in Wills and Estates at TB Law at or call him on (02) 66 487 487. This column is only accurate at today’s date and is not legal advice.

By Manny WOOD, Solicitor

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