Can an illegitimate child inherit from his father’s estate? Which case won?
Man refuses to acknowledge his illegitimate child
The man’s story is one of Australia’s remarkable rags-to-riches immigrant stories. He began building his empire, with his wife, in the garage of his wife’s parents’ home.
The man became a renowned businessman, building a high-street fashion label and controlling numerous hotels and restaurants.
The man, his wife and their two children worked within the company, and by all reports, lived an affluent lifestyle.
In 1983 the man started a six-year affair with another woman, and in June 1990 she gave birth to a son.
The man refused to accept the child as his own.
In 1995, following DNA testing, the Family Court declared that the man was the child’s father.
Notwithstanding that ruling, the man continued to deny paternity. However, he did make child support payments to the child’s mother until the boy turned eighteen.
In 2010, the son began writing letters to his father, telling him that for as long as he could remember, he had wanted to meet him, to speak with him and to understand the missing person in his life.
His father refused to respond. Instead, he had his general manager respond, telling the son that his father would not talk to him or meet with him until further DNA testing was carried out.
The son did not have a further DNA test and so was unable to meet his father.
No provision made for illegitimate son in man’s will
The man died in 2015 at the age of 83 without ever having met his illegitimate son.
In the week before his death, the deceased transferred $5.7 million out of one of his bank accounts to his two legitimate children.
On his death, the deceased’s wife automatically inherited the family home as a joint tenant. The family home was worth $34 million and did not form part of the estate.
The deceased’s will left $2 million to his general manager and the remainder of his estate to his two legitimate children.
No provision was made in the will for the illegitimate son.
Son seeks family provision order in relation to deceased’s estate
In 2016, the son applied to the Supreme Court for a family provision order granting him a share of his father’s estate.
The court had to decide whether the deceased’s will had made “adequate provision for the proper maintenance, education or advancement in life” of the plaintiff, and if not, whether such provision ought to be made by the court.