No, you don’t have a right to grandpa’s money
A recent court stoush over a grandfather’s multi-million dollar estate led the NSW Court of Appeal to rule that, as a general rule, a grandparent had “no responsibility” to make provision for a grandchild in their will.
The legal battle began when the grandfather died leaving his $5.5 million rural estate to his only daughter who lived on the property. The grandfather had already paid his grandson’s hefty school and boarding fees at the elite King’s School. He gave him a good start in life and you’d think that would be fair enough.
But the grandson believed he was entitled to a share of the fortune and took his mother to court disputing the grandfather’s will. The grandson challenged the will in the Supreme Court, arguing he was entitled to $1.1 million from his grandfather’s estate and his mother should give him the money.
Earlier this year a NSW Supreme Court judge awarded the grandson $387,000 under state succession laws, but in a scathing judgment said the grandson had an “unhealthy sense of entitlement” and, like many an expectant heir, hadn’t done enough to support himself.
The mother appealed and the Court of Appeal agreed, ruling the grandson wasn’t entitled to a cent of the grandfather’s estate. Unfortunately the mother died before the judgment could be delivered and the case was continued by the executor of her will in accordance with her wishes.
In some cases a court can make an order under state succession laws that a grandchild who is not included in a will should be given a payment from the estate to ensure their “proper maintenance, education or advancement in life”.
But the appeal judges said this was not an appropriate case for such an order, saying the grandson hadn’t used his skills as a mechanic to earn a living.
“The factual circumstances left no room for any view that community standards and community expectations required or countenanced the making of any provision for (the grandson) out of the estate.”
Joshua Crowther, wills specialist at Stacks Law Firm, says when a person challenges a will the courts consider whether a deceased person made adequate provision for the challenger’s education, maintenance or advancement in life. The court takes into account the relationship between the deceased and the challenger, the size of the estate, the challenger’s financial needs and circumstances and the circumstances of others who inherit from the estate.
“It’s best to get skilled objective legal advice before deciding to embark on a challenge to a will as sometimes emotion can cloud good decision making,” Crowther advises.