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inheritance claims by adult children

The likelihood of the success of an adult child in a claim for further provision from an estate is often a matter to be considered by a person when making a will.

The recently handed down judgement of Olsen v Olsen (2019) NSWSC 217 (“Olsen”) considered an inheritance claim brought by an independent adult child. The estate was modest, being worth approximately $265,000. The deceased was the claimant’s father and lived with the claimant and his mother for only the first 9 months of the claimant’s life. The deceased had little contact with the claimant after that time, remarrying and having a further 3 children. The deceased left his estate entirely to his wife and, in the event that she was to die before him, equally to the claimant’s 3 half siblings. The deceased made no provision in his will for the claimant.

The claimant was a solicitor who ran a successful law practice and was financially comfortable. The beneficiaries however had significant health issues, were in receipt of pensions and in significant financial need.

The claimant’s claim for further provision from his father’s estate was dismissed.

The Judge was keen to discourage inheritance claims brought by adult children and noted that many had been recently dismissed. The Judge considered that the will was fair and reasonable considering the size of the estate and the circumstances of the wife and the claimant’s step siblings. It was important to consider the claimant’s financial need and that of the other beneficiaries and eligible claimants.

Although not bound by Olsen, being a New South Wales case, South Australian Courts are influenced by interstate judgements and may be indicative of the view of the Courts here in the future.

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Nothing in this blog should be deemed to create or constitute a solicitor-client relationship between any readers and Swan Family Lawyers. A solicitor-client relationship is created only when this firm agrees to represent someone and a written engagement agreement or engagement letter is signed by both the client and solicitor. In all cases, the reader should consult his or her own solicitor for advice. The information in this blog is based on Australian law.