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Challenging an Unfair Will

Lawyer-in-charge: Kaisha Gambell

Kaisha’s client was a single man in his retirement, who sought Coutts’ advice regarding the estate of his late mother. Our client’s mother was over 100 years old when she passed away, and she left a Will dividing her $370,000 estate unequally between her two adult children. Our client was given 25% of the estate, with his sibling receiving the remaining 75%. Our client’s mother also left a letter with her Will giving reasons for the unequal division of her estate. She believed that she had given our client significantly more money and financial assistance during his lifetime, and that his sibling had only received a relatively small amount. Our client examined the bank statements which were available and was able to prove that his sibling had also received substantial amounts of money and financial assistance from their mother during her lifetime.

At the time of his mother’s death, our client was living a modest lifestyle without any luxuries. He did not have any savings, substantial assets or superannuation, and the only source of his income was the aged care pension. He had mounting rental arrears due to a change in personal circumstances outside of his control. He was facing an immediate accommodation crisis and risked being evicted from his home. Because of this, the 25% share of the estate was insufficient to meet his current and future needs.

All parties agreed that the estate was relatively small in value and to proceed with formal court proceedings would significantly deplete the estate when the money would be better placed in the hands of the beneficiaries. Because of this, we negotiated with the estate to attend a private mediation to attempt to resolve the dispute before going to court.

The private mediation was successful, and our client received closer to 39% of the estate. This extra money allowed our client to pay his immediate debts, find stable accommodation and have some extra money set aside for a “rainy day”. He also avoided incurring significant legal costs by effectively resolving the dispute at the mediation.

Contact Kaisha Gambell
Contact Kaisha Gambell

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