In a recent case two grandchildren of the deceased made a claim for further provision from the estate of their grandmother. In NSW grandchildren may be eligible to make a claim but only if they were a member of the deceased’s household and were dependent on the deceased.
In this case the deceased owned two adjoining properties. She lived in one and her daughter and three grandchildren lived in the other. Her daughter married a man that neither the deceased nor the two older grandchildren could live with. There was friction in the household and the daughter moved away with her husband and the youngest grandchild. The two older grandchildren remained in their home and enjoyed a strong and loving relationship with their grandmother.
The relationship between the deceased and her daughter broke down when the daughter cut off all contact despite the best efforts of the deceased to maintain a relationship. Knowing her two grandchildren had an equally difficult relationship with their mother, the deceased began taking steps to execute a new Will to provide for them after her death. The new Will would leave the adjoining property still occupied by the two grandchildren to them.
Unfortunately, she died unexpectedly before executing the new Will, leaving her most recent Will which had been made in 1968. In a misguided effort to fulfil her grandmother’s wishes and protect her assets from the daughter, one of the grandchildren created a forged will that left the adjoining property to her and her brother, and planted it in the deceased’s desk drawer. The forgery was discovered after some investigation and probate was granted over the 1968 will instead.
The grandchildren brought proceedings for further provision and were found to be dependents eligible to make a claim. The judge awarded them the house they lived in but the granddaughter was ordered to pay the costs resulting from her forgery. This is a good example of how timely legal advice and assistance can avoid problems in your estate planning. We can assist you to ensure that your wishes are carried out correctly and minimise the chance of disputes with beneficiaries.