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Family Forum – Mum’s wishes ignored by greedy sister

Family Forum gives advice about how to manage a person’s last will when it is challenged.

Question:

I lived with my mother most of my life and later became her full-time carer. Mum left me everything in her will as my sister is a multi-millionaire who was not only paid out by mum but had little to do with mum until her passing (and shortly prior to). My solicitor made many offers to avoid going to court. All I think about now is mum’s last will (she made four) and the great betrayal of my family. My mother would want them dead!

Answer:

The panel acknowledged the pain, anger and frustration you may be feeling as legal issues impinge on your ability to process the grief over your mother’s death.

Your situation is not uncommon. Many families struggle to come to terms with the last will of their loved ones because they hold differing views of how the family inheritance should be divided and transmitted from one generation to the next. It can be a shock to realise that a person’s last will is not sacrosanct or above challenge.

Unfortunately, while a person’s financial standing is certainly a factor that a Court will take into account in assessing an inheritance claim, it is only one factor and certainly not a bar to being able to bring such proceedings. Lack of contact or other disentitling conduct, again while a factor for consideration, is not a bar to bring inheritance proceedings.

As you have already engaged a lawyer to assist in what appears to be a contested estate matter, you may not be seeking legal advice at this time. Also it is not clear whether the matter is ongoing, with your sister claiming under the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act for provision out of your late mother’s estate, or settled – and you don’t agree or accept the outcome.

If you are not happy with the advice or service you are receiving you are entitled to engage other legal services, although it would require the new lawyer to get up to speed with the matter and they may very well arrive at the same position and give the same advice that the current lawyer has.

Even if the matter has not yet settled, you may wish to consider seeking counselling to work through the issues raised and enable you to move past thoughts of betrayal and vengeance to a more peaceful place of acceptance.

Submit Your Questions

Family Forum is a panel of general practitioners, medical specialists, lawyers, therapeutic and financial counsellors to discuss each letter before the appropriate professional answers it. The panel is appointed by Relationships Australia SA.

Have you got a question you’d like us to tackle?

Fill out the form below or send questions to Family Forum, The Advertiser, 31 Waymouth St, Adelaide 5000.

We treat communications in strict confidence except when the law demands otherwise, as in child abuse.

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