Home > News > Will Challenge by Stepsons Succeeds

Will Challenge by Stepsons Succeeds

Spread the love

By: Paul Watkins, Principal, Mason Sier Turnbull Lawyers

In the Supreme Court case of Paola v State Trustees (26 April 2012), Keith Bennett died at the age of 76 without a Will.  His estate was valued at approximately $558,000.

As Keith died without a Will, the distribution of his estate was governed by the intestacy rules.  State Trustees undertook extensive genealogical searches and located two cousins overseas.  There was a possibility of other relatives who may not yet have been identified.

Three stepsons of the deceased made a claim for provision from the estate.  The stepsons had been brought up in the household of the deceased and their mother.  The deceased played the role of the father to the three stepsons and it appeared he was the only father that they had ever known.  The stepsons were all in financial need.

The Court was satisfied that the stepsons were persons for whom the deceased had a responsibility to make provision.  The Court awarded $200,000 to one of the stepsons (who had special needs) and $100,000 to each of the other two, together with legal costs.  This decision meant that the stepsons received the entire estate.

The estate dispute could have been avoided or at least minimised if the deceased had made a carefully thought out Will.  The entitlement of stepchildren in an estate is an area of the law that is still developing.

If you have any queries about your Will and Estate Planning, the administration of an estate or an estate or superannuation dispute, please contact one of our Wills and Estates Lawyers on +61 3 8540 0200.