The Good Son: Sibling Rivalry and Estate Claims

11 May 2017

 

A recent decision of the Supreme Court of NSW has made headlines undoubtedly because it involved a legal fight between twin brothers in connection with the share of their mother’s estate. 

The Court accepted the evidence that the contrast between the twin brothers in terms of their relationship with their mother was extensive, with one brother being exceptionally close to his mother (we will call him the ‘good son’) and the other brother being estranged from his mother (and having a history of alleged abuse towards his mother).

Over many years, the mother had a Will in place under which she explicitly stated that the estranged son was not to receive any benefit from her estate.  Yet shortly before her death in 2015, the mother changed her Will to provide for an equal split of her estate between her sons.  The good son then commenced a family provision application arguing that (as the good son) he was entitled to a greater share of the estate at the expense of his estranged twin brother.

Although the Court accepted the facts put forward by the good son and the contrast in the relationship the sons had with their mother, the Court stated that an order for further provision in favour of the good son could not be made at the expense of the estranged son.  The Court upheld the final wishes of the mother as per the Will and the estate was split equally between the sons. 

This case highlights the role of the Court in family provision applications.  Being the good 'son' did not entitle him to a reward.  It is not for the Court to provide a reward for good conduct or a punishment for bad conduct.

If you have any questions about any estate planning matters, please feel free to contact a member of our Succession Planning Team at Shand Taylor Lawyers:

Brad Clark, Partner: (07) 3307 4527 or bclark@shandtaylor.com.au
Kaylie Bourke, Special Counsel: (07) 3307 4548 or kbourke@shandtaylor.com.au

 


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