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Another Reminder of the Perils of Estate Litigation

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In the Supreme Court case of Youn v Frank (16 December 2011) the deceased died at the age of 73 without a Will. He was survived by his second wife of 10 years and two children from his first marriage. 

The estate of the deceased was valued at the time of his death at $655,000. The intestacy rules which apply when there is no Will would have resulted in his wife receiving $285,000 and the children $185,000 each.

The widow made a claim for further provision. Unfortunately by the time the case came to trial, the estate had deteriorated in value to $450,000. This was due in part to a drop in the property market and the servicing of some debts by the estate. However, the main cause was that the parties had incurred legal fees of approximately $130,000 to the commencement of the trial. 

The Associate Judge remarked that “this deterioration in the value of the estate over a period of a mere 8 months stands as a stark reminder of the perils of litigation”.

As is usual in cases of this type, there were many issues in contention between the parties.

The Court ultimately decided that the Will did not adequately provide for the widow and awarded her an amount of $300,000 which left the children with $75,000 each.

A carefully thought out Will may have avoided the dispute. The case illustrates the uncertainty and expense of estate litigation and is another example of a hotly contested dispute between a second spouse and the children from the first marriage. 

If you have any queries about your Will and Estate Planning, the administration of an estate or an estate dispute, please contact one of our Wills and Estates Lawyers.

Author: Paul Watkins

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