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Yet another claim by a de facto challenging an out of date Will

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The Supreme Court case of White v Hanover (10 December 2010) reinforces the importance of:

  • making an appropriate Will and keeping it up to date; and
  • minimising or avoiding a dispute over your estate.

Avril Buckton died suddenly in 2008 whilst overseas.  Accompanying her was her de facto partner of four years, Russell White.

Avril’s last Will was made in 1992 shortly after her divorce.  The Will left her estate equally to her three sisters.  It made no provision for Russell and she was estranged from one of her sisters.

Like most estate disputes the facts were complicated.  Russell had already received a payment of $210,000 from Avril’s superannuation fund.  The Court awarded him provision of $280,000 from her estate which was valued at $950,000.

The Associate Judge made the following observation:

It does seem to me somewhat extraordinary that a claim of this nature, where all parties are mature and sensible adults, could not have been resolved at an early stage without dissipating $160,000 of the estate in legal costs, with the consequence that the legacy to each of the sisters has been diminished by over $50,000.

A messy and expensive estate dispute can be one of the consequences of not having an appropriate and up to date Will.  If you have any queries about your Will, the administration of a deceased estate or an estate dispute, please contact one of our Wills & Estates lawyers.

Author: Paul Watkins, Accredited Wills and Estates Specialist

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