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Private Agreement leads to a Fair Share of the Estate

Lawyer-in-charge: Kaisha Gambell

Kaisha’s clients were two sisters in their mid-40s, who sought Coutts’ advice regarding the estate of their late father. Our client’s father had passed away some months prior and left a Will giving his estate to our client’s two brothers, to the exclusion of our client’s (his daughters).

Our clients were confused as to why they had been left out of their father’s will, as they each maintained a close and loving relationship with him until he died. In today’s society, it is not unusual for parents to leave one or more of their children out of their will or even leave them a smaller portion. However, this is generally only seen where the parent and child had a family conflict with one another or an estranged relationship for many years.

Whilst a parent is permitted to leave their adult child out of the Will for whatever reason they deem appropriate. However, the adult child can challenge that Will and ask the Court for provision if they believe the share which they have been left (or if they have been left nothing) is not adequate for their current or future financial needs.

At the time of their father’s death, our clients were living modest lifestyles without any luxuries and each client had children of their own who were dependent on them for full-time care and support. Whilst they were both in full-time employment and working towards paying off their own mortgages, each of our clients did not have any substantial savings, large assets or considerable superannuation.

Our clients were not estranged from their brothers and maintained a relatively good relationship with their brothers during their adult lives. Taking this into account, we choose to attempt negotiating with the two brothers for our clients to receive an inheritance from their fathers first without threatening or commencing any formal legal proceedings.

The negotiations were successful, and our clients entered into a private agreement with their brothers to receive 20% of their father’s estate each. This extra money allowed our clients to make payments towards their mortgages and have some extra money set aside for the benefit of their families. Through successful pre-litigation negotiations, our clients were able to avoid incurring significant legal costs by effectively resolving the dispute privately and were able to preserve a good relationship with their brothers.

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