A reader wonders about his legal rights after being overlooked in his father’s will.
I’m the oldest of three siblings. My two youngest siblings have never worked, and all of us are in our 40s. I’ve worked since I was 14 and am still employed in the same job.
Not only have I worked hard all my life but I always come over to help my parents mow lawns, or carry out other maintenance duties.
When Mum or Dad were sick it was me or my wife who drove them to the doctor or to hospital.
My younger siblings are very lazy. Mum especially favoured those two.
Dad has passed away and my two siblings each received a huge sum of inheritance, whereas I did not receive anything. I cannot understand why Mum, and maybe Dad, have done this.
I do believe this to be unfair. Should I just suck it up and accept it? I’m very disappointed. What rights do I have? Do I need to see a lawyer?
It is not uncommon for people to make their will without talking about inheritance to those concerned.
Sometimes this is not possible, or it may be their considered wish not to do so. What happens, however, is that expectations are found not to have been met when that person dies.
Your disappointment is understandable, but it may not indicate a lack of love or respect for you from your parents.
They may simply have decided your siblings were more in need financially, no matter the reason, even though this would appear unfair to you.
It is advisable to see a lawyer, who may suggest you challenge the will.
As a child of your late father you do have rights under the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act 1972 to bring a claim against your father’s estate. There are a number of factors which may influence whether such a claim is successful or not, including the existing level of provision under the will (if any), loss of contact with the family member, the financial standing of the claimant, and time limits under the Act.
Of course, just because you have a right to bring a claim does not necessarily mean that it would be successful.
However, as a general rule, the costs of bringing such a claim are generally borne by the deceased person’s estate.
You will also need to seriously consider how a claim may impact on the existing relationship with your mother and your siblings.
The panel suggests you do consult a lawyer so that, at the very least, you are informed of your rights. The Law Society of SA will be able to refer you to practitioners who specialise in this area of law.
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Relationships Australia (SA) appoints panels of general practitioners, medical specialists, lawyers, therapeutic and financial counsellors to discuss each letter before the appropriate professional answers it.