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Will challenge by neighbour succeeds

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A neighbour was awarded $200,000 out of an estate valued at $1.7 million, in the recent Supreme Court case of Unger v Sanchez.

You might be shocked to read that a neighbour can make a successful claim against an estate, but the case illustrates the principles that apply in Victoria in Will disputes.

Each Will dispute case is decided on its own facts.  This case had a complex set of facts.  In summary, the neighbour’s claim was primarily made on the basis that during the last years of the lives of the deceased and her husband, the neighbour adopted the role of carer and guardian to both of them, and during that period she formed a close personal relationship with them so that they regarded her as their adopted daughter.

The deceased did not have any children or any family in Australia.  The Will left the entire estate to her sister who lived in Spain.

The category of claimants who can challenge a Will in Victoria is not limited to family members or a defined class.  When you make a Will you have an obligation to make sure that your Will provides for the “proper maintenance and support of any person for whom you have a responsibility to make provision”.

The challenge is working out who this might be and then adequately providing for them.

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

Author: Paul Watkins, Accredited Wills & Estates Specialist