Pandemic or Prejudice: FPA hearing vacated amid COVID-19 (ACT)

I sincerely hope this reaches my readers, followers, and passers-by in a situation where they are safe and well during this tumultuous time in the world! For those in litigation, your practice is changing daily as we wait (and wait) for certainty (if it is ever arrives!); and those hearings aren’t going anywhere.. or are…

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No Undue Influence + Mutual Wills: Appeal dismissed in Birch v Birch case (Qld)

I have been eagerly awaiting delivery of the appeal decision in Birch v Birch [2018] QSC 289. The case of Birch v Birch involved a situation where a mother had transferred her interest in a farming property to one of her sons, who also happened to be the mother’s duly appointed power of attorney. Whilst…

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Conduct that disentitles: son’s application for FPA fails (QLD)

When someone contests a Will after being left out or not getting what they feel is their fair share, it’s more often than not that the surviving family want to suggest that that person’s conduct doesn’t entitlement to more, or sometimes anything. This is what us #lawnerds term as “disentitling conduct” in the context of…

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Decision Impossible, Part 2: Appeal against disabled son’s FPA dismissed, with costs

Near the end of last year, I wrote a post about an FPA by a disabled son where provision was ordered in favour of that son to the detriment of the surviving widow of the deceased. This was, I feel, aptly described in the title as “Decision Impossible” as the effect of the order was…

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Fractured Relationship: abuse and estrangement in FPA, provision ordered (NSW)

In the first post of this year, it seems fitting to write on the topic of disentitling conduct and estrangement, given my research interests in this space. Sadly, late last year saw the NSW Supreme Court determine a family provision application by a son against his father’s estate in what was clearly a very difficult…

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Decision Impossible: FPA by disabled son against widow, forcing sale of family home in notional estate (NSW)

Recently, the NSW Supreme Court determined a very difficult family provision application by an adult son, in circumstances where the adult son was otherwise healthy when the deceased passed away, but subsequently suffered significant health issues following his father’s death. Further, the only available assets for such a family provision claim were via notional estate.…

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Family Affair: trust and property transfers set aside on bad faith and unconscionability (QLD)

The recent case of Campbell & Anor v T.L. Clacher No. 2 Pty LTd & Ors [2019] QSC 218 dealt with a application by two daughters as against the trustee of their family trust, the trustee of their sisters family trust and their father in respect of transactions that occurred between the parties following very…

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Duty Bound: solicitor’s duty to beneficiary of incapable testator after inter vivos transfer

It was in the context of preparing for the delivery of my recent presentation for The Tax Institute’s Death…and Taxes Symposium on the Gold Coast recently that I come to read a recent case of solicitor negligence in the context of estate planning. In the appeal decision of McFee v Reilly [2018] NSWCA 322, a…

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Danger Zone: costs against plaintiff in FPA in small estate (NSW)

Family provision claims in small estates is an inherit danger zone for claimants and lawyers. The recent case of Wengdal v Rawnsley [2019] NSWSC 926 has demonstrated this again where Justice Hallen has ordered that the plaintiff’s claim be dismissed and the plaintiff pay the defendant’s costs on the ordinary basis. In this case, the deceased…

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Renewable Power: Court permits Attorney to renew superannuation nomination (QLD)

For a while now, it’s been a hazy question asked by succession lawyers alike about whether an attorney can make or renew a binding death benefit nomination for their principal’s superannuation policy proceeds. On 24 August 2018, Justice Bowskill of the Supreme Court of Queensland delivered a decision on this very topic. The case of…

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Selfless surrender: defacto partner applies for Statutory Will to benefit mother and sisters (NSW)

  Sadly, it’s not often I read of a case where the applicant/plaintiff’s endeavours lack self-interest. Given the nature of estate litigation, generally in a good portion of the cases, self-interest takes a front seat.  Of course, that doesn’t mean to say that it is greed or something sinister that drives a person to take…

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The Unsent Text Message Will: Is it really that simple? No – it’s really not! (QLD)

It’s likely been in your news feed recently that an unsent text message was held by a Queensland Court to be a valid Will.  It may seem quite unbelievable to some that this would even happen! On the other hand, maybe it doesn’t? Reviewing the comments that appear in many of the media articles online…

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Excluded child’s claim dismissed: 40 years of estrangement after bitter divorce (NSW)

In case it’s not already evident to my readers, I have a particular interest in family provision cases that touch on disentitling conduct or estrangement.  So, it’s no surprise this recent case in the Supreme Court of NSW caught my eye yesterday where a family provision application by an adult child, who was excluded from…

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“Probable intention”: Novel rectification case in ACT

Recently the Supreme Court in the ACT was called to determine a question of the interpretation of a Will and subsequent amendments made to the Will by the testator on the day he died. In the Estate of Rummer [2017] ACTSC 277, the Plaintiff called upon the Court to determine the true construction of the…

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“Child Support”: Effect on earning capacity and meaning of “Support” in an FPA (Qld)

Imagine if you had a child with your partner and the relationship failed, resulting in your separation and shared parenting relationship.  Then, your former partner passes away. How much did you depend on your former partner for support or help? “Support” or “help” can be pretty subjective words when it’s this kind of scenario.  You…

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Burden of secrets: Claim for secret trust within an FPA by grandchild (NSW)

Within a family dynamic, particularly as the elderly age and consider their demise, it’s common to hear of conversations being held between family members of “understandings” and benefits that may flow the next generation on the death of the elder. Promises made and, sometimes, others rely on those alleged promises. So what happens where there’s a secret of a…

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A Shared Life: Family provision claim by same-sex defacto of 30 years

For those of my readers who are not familiar with estate litigation matters, it is common for parties to apply to the Court to “sign-off” on negotiated outcomes following a private mediation.  This is particularly so where the estate property is comprised of real property. As such, I thought it worthwhile to write a short note on the latest case of Roberts…

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