Avoiding disputes over your will is easier said than done. Your family may not disagree about your will, but there may be others who feel they have a right to your care.
In New South Wales, since 2005, Supreme Court resolution of will disputes has increased by almost 60%.
This increase is due to the Family Provisions Act, which requires the Court to consider the objective intentions of the deceased as of the date of death and not the actual intentions of the deceased.
Statistics are the tip of the iceberg. The statistics below show the cases resolved by the court. Most issues, about 95% of all claims, are resolved by the parties or through mediation. These are not reflected in the statistics.
Claims often irretrievably destroy family relationships.
It can be seen that the increase is due to the growth of mixed families, with several children and grandchildren of second or even third marriages and domestic partners. For example, in a recent Supreme Court case, a 46-year-old man made a claim for $ 1.1 million on his grandfather’s $ 5.5 million rural property, which he had left to his mother.
Despite not having worked in agriculture since 2001, the court determined that he was entitled to some money and ordered that he be paid $ 107,000 to settle a tax debt.
In the Supreme Court in 2013, a husband filed a lawsuit against the will of his late wife, who had left her $ 1.3 million estate to her four children from her first marriage.
The family members abused each other in court, arguing over a $ 10,000 Datsun and the beneficiary suffering from a mental illness attributed to “family conflicts and sibling arguments.”
The judge wrote in his determination “The emotions during the cases were, understandably raw and painful,” and “Hopefully the termination of the sentencing process will resolve the hostility that has rocked the family since the death of the deceased.”
Have you considered all the possibilities for those who may feel they have a right to be cared for by you? There are other ways to care for people outside of a will, with careful thought when writing your will, your wishes can be fulfilled.
Do not write a will that leaves your loved ones in confusion after you are gone. Planning ahead and regularly reviewing your will is good practice to avoid legal challenges.