Leave ’em a loan: Liability to pay mortgage left with joint tenant

The liability of a mortgage is probably one of the most significant liabilities a couple will share. Whilst many times it’s a fairly equal distribution of that liability when everything is held jointly, it’s not always the case in circumstances of second/later relationships or a singular income earner and home maker. The recent decision of…

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Elder Abuse = Disentitling Conduct: FPA by adult daughter dismissed with costs

It is no surprise to any of my colleagues in the succession world that this topic is of great interest to me. So, you can imagine my interest when I found this case. A few days ago, the New South Wales Supreme Court determined a matter that involved a family provision claim by an adult…

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Pandemic or Prejudice: FPA hearing vacated amid COVID-19 (ACT)

I sincerely hope this reaches my readers, followers, and passers-by in a situation where they are safe and well during this tumultuous time in the world! For those in litigation, your practice is changing daily as we wait (and wait) for certainty (if it is ever arrives!); and those hearings aren’t going anywhere.. or are…

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Conduct that disentitles: son’s application for FPA fails (QLD)

When someone contests a Will after being left out or not getting what they feel is their fair share, it’s more often than not that the surviving family want to suggest that that person’s conduct doesn’t entitlement to more, or sometimes anything. This is what us #lawnerds term as “disentitling conduct” in the context of…

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Decision Impossible, Part 2: Appeal against disabled son’s FPA dismissed, with costs

Near the end of last year, I wrote a post about an FPA by a disabled son where provision was ordered in favour of that son to the detriment of the surviving widow of the deceased. This was, I feel, aptly described in the title as “Decision Impossible” as the effect of the order was…

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Fractured Relationship: abuse and estrangement in FPA, provision ordered (NSW)

In the first post of this year, it seems fitting to write on the topic of disentitling conduct and estrangement, given my research interests in this space. Sadly, late last year saw the NSW Supreme Court determine a family provision application by a son against his father’s estate in what was clearly a very difficult…

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Decision Impossible: FPA by disabled son against widow, forcing sale of family home in notional estate (NSW)

Recently, the NSW Supreme Court determined a very difficult family provision application by an adult son, in circumstances where the adult son was otherwise healthy when the deceased passed away, but subsequently suffered significant health issues following his father’s death. Further, the only available assets for such a family provision claim were via notional estate.…

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Screen Test: Court of Appeal prefers lawyer’s evidence over medical on testamentary capacity (NSW)

Capacity is quite the minefield.  Any practitioner that works within this field, may very well agree with me.  I would even hazard a guess and go as far as to say that perhaps even medical practitioners may also share the same view. Recently, in the case of Drivas v Jakopovic [2019] NSWCA 218, the New…

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Duty Bound: solicitor’s duty to beneficiary of incapable testator after inter vivos transfer

It was in the context of preparing for the delivery of my recent presentation for The Tax Institute’s Death…and Taxes Symposium on the Gold Coast recently that I come to read a recent case of solicitor negligence in the context of estate planning. In the appeal decision of McFee v Reilly [2018] NSWCA 322, a…

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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…

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Catch and Release: Court considers when s33Z applies to a ‘purported’ Will (Qld)

Recently, the case of Saltmer v Rennick Lawyers Pty Ltd [2018] QSC 307 was heard in the Supreme Court of Queensland in Townsville where the Court was called upon to question of costs in a situation where a deceased person’s family member requested a copy of a document held by a Solicitor that the family…

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Renewable Power: Court permits Attorney to renew superannuation nomination (QLD)

For a while now, it’s been a hazy question asked by succession lawyers alike about whether an attorney can make or renew a binding death benefit nomination for their principal’s superannuation policy proceeds. On 24 August 2018, Justice Bowskill of the Supreme Court of Queensland delivered a decision on this very topic. The case of…

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Missing element: High Court orders new trial in solemn form probate proceedings; denial of procedural fairness

It appears to be raining estate and trust law cases from the High Court of Australia over the last two weeks. Yesterday, the High Court of Australia ordered a new trial be held in relation to solemn form probate proceedings in Nobarani v Mariconte [2018] HCA 36 on the basis that the appellant as denied…

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“Divorced from reality”: Appeal allowed in former spouse FPA claim (NSW)

Earlier this year, I was surprised to read a judgement where a former spouse successfully claimed for further provision from her former husband’s estate notwithstanding the pair had completed a property settlement 25 years prior. You can read my earlier post here. It may come as no surprise that the matter was appealed to the…

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Selfless surrender: defacto partner applies for Statutory Will to benefit mother and sisters (NSW)

  Sadly, it’s not often I read of a case where the applicant/plaintiff’s endeavours lack self-interest. Given the nature of estate litigation, generally in a good portion of the cases, self-interest takes a front seat.  Of course, that doesn’t mean to say that it is greed or something sinister that drives a person to take…

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The Unsent Text Message Will: Is it really that simple? No – it’s really not! (QLD)

It’s likely been in your news feed recently that an unsent text message was held by a Queensland Court to be a valid Will.  It may seem quite unbelievable to some that this would even happen! On the other hand, maybe it doesn’t? Reviewing the comments that appear in many of the media articles online…

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