Another interesting decision regarding Estate matters which was handed down recently is the Western Australian case of Mead –v- Lemon.
In this case, the deceased was a very wealthy individual who was survived by four children at his death (three of whom were born as a result of one of his earlier marriages and one child who was born as a result of a subsequent relationship), and the question before the Supreme Court of Western Australia was whether he had made ‘adequate provision’ for his youngest daughter as an eligible person under the definition of ‘child’ in the relevant Act.
Relevantly, the Court must determine whether the disposition of a deceased estate does not make adequate provision for the proper maintenance, support, education or advancement in life of an eligible person under the Act, in this case a child of the deceased, then the Court may, at its discretion, make an order it thinks fit for the provision of that person out of the estate.
Here, two of the deceased’s children received entitlements in the vicinity of $400 million each and his other child received a specific nominated amount from the estate. His youngest daughter’s entitlements however, were contained in a convoluted trust structure which was ambiguous, and arguably could have resulted in her receiving nothing from her father’s estate. The will also included very specific clauses regarding his youngest daughter’s religious associations, and dealings with drugs/alcohol which could have ‘excluded’ her from receiving her entitlement under the will.
Ultimately, the Judge held that the deceased had not made adequate provision for his daughter in his will, and made an order that she receive $25 million dollars from the estate to leave her financially secure for the remainder of her life.
The need for individual circumstances to be thoroughly considered when making a will, especially in circumstances where the estate is large, or a person wishes to alter provisions made for their children or other persons who may have standing to file a family provisions application is highlighted by this decision.
This case serves as a timely reminder that having a professionally drafted will, and obtaining legal advice as to the effect of your will from an experienced and professional lawyer will ensure that your estate is administered in accordance with your wishes upon your passing.
We strongly recommend that you contact our experienced and professional Gold Coast lawyers on 07 5563 8970 to arrange your estate planning and will consultation today.