Legal Hypothetical: What are the odds?

DAVE, a creature of habit, purchased a lotto ticket every week.

He was a pillar of the community who unfortunately lost his wife, in tragic circumstances, several years ago.

Dave maintained a relationship with his mum and his supportive sister.

Dave loved his two children, Wayne and Sharon very much and worked hard to provide for them.

Tragically, Dave was unexpectedly killed by a lightning strike.

However, in a turn of events that can only be described as extraordinary, his lotto ticket that week was a winner, netting a windfall of $50 million.

Dave, known for his generosity, always stated he would share his lottery winnings with his family, especially his mum, Mary and a few close friends.

Unfortunately, this wish was never legally documented.

His will made no mention of this intention.

Instead, the will left his entire estate, which now included the lottery windfall, to Wayne and Sharon.

Wayne proposed to honour his father’s wishes.

However, Sharon disagreed and was unwilling to part with any of her newfound wealth.

This disagreement escalated to the point where it ended up in Court.

The Court held, wills cannot be rewritten “posthumously”, barring exceptional circumstances.

This left the Court with a difficult decision, balancing the legal rigidity of a will against Dave’s generous intentions.

The law, as stated in the Succession Act 2006 (NSW), limits the right to contest a will to spouses, children, and financially dependent individuals.

This meant Dave’s mother, sister, and friends could not contest the will.

It is worth noting that whilst the Court would consider moral obligations owed towards certain family members, this is limited to persons eligible to make a claim.

This column is a sobering reminder that while generosity may be a virtue, without legally documenting your wishes, your estate may be the subject of a dispute.

Thank you to Anthony Fogarty for his assistance with this column. Email Manny Wood, principal solicitor at TB Law at or call him on (02) 66 487 487.

This column is only accurate at today’s date and cannot be relied upon as legal advice.

By Manny WOOD, Solicitor

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