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…

New legislative changes for Attorneys and Administrators

While no person expects, nor wishes, to experience a lack of capacity, the very real fact of life is that they may.  Incapacity can be long term or short term and can impact everyone quite differently. The question of someone’s capacity to understand the nature and the effect of something is fraught with difficulty mainly…

Optional Extra: Court held exercise of Option to Purchase not done properly

Will making is sometimes pretty complex work. The plan will always be unique to a person’s wishes and the personal circumstances.  Every so often, I receive instructions from clients to include an ‘option’ for one of their family or friends to purchase their property. Usually, this is because they’re trying to balance at least two…

Wife support: FPA by widow dismissed with costs (NSW)

It is a suggestion that arises throughout many estate disputes that the claim of a widow on an estate should be paramount to those of other family member who survive the deceased person. However, as each case is determined on it’s merits, this is not always the case. Yesterday, the Supreme Court of New South Wales…

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…

Computer Will upheld

In the Estate of Robin Michael (Deceased) [2016] SASC 164, the Supreme Court of South Australia held that a computer document was to be admitted to probate as the last will and testatment of the deceased. The Court itemised the following main issues to be determined were: Was the will on the deceased’s hard drive of…

Rural farming and interpretation of “farming machinery” within a Will

As a regional lawyer living in a semi-rural area and with family in the farming industry (and as a succession nerd generally!), I thoroughly enjoyed reading this case. This case of Frey v Frey [2015] QDC 184 involved an issue of interpretation when the testator gifted “farming machinery” to a beneficiary. With multiple properties (gifted in various…

Buyer beware: engaging lawyers that “complicate things”

I hear comments in society all the time such as “lawyers complicate things” or some variation of that. I can entirely understand why people think this, but it’s generally not true. It’s probably because we ask lots of questions and likely those questions are things you probably didn’t think about. BUT that’s our job. Some…