Family Forum: Mending a Relationship

A family estrangement and concerns about a will.


What is the best way to recover from family estrangement, knowing that my mother forgives one child (my older sister) but not me? My elderly mother has a long history of estrangement within her own family and has barely had any contact with her own siblings since the 1970s.

I’m the youngest of three children, with an older sister and brother. I am not close to either of them.

During a phone call to my mother on Mother’s Day last year, I berated my sister over her need to make rude, nasty and inappropriate comments to me at family functions, including at funerals. Since then she has stopped talking to me.

Despite attempts to reconcile, such as sending cards and visiting her where she refused to open the door, my concern is in regard to her will.

If she were to cut me out of her will, can I use the emotional distress I experienced as a child and teenager and because of which I need ongoing therapy and support, to effectively sue the estate, once she dies? As I’m not included in any family events and my siblings do not call me, I probably won’t be told if and when she dies. I feel she only kept in contact with me over the years to see my daughter and visit my in-laws who she formed a bond with, not to see me, as she has never really displayed empathy towards me.


It seems you have had a great deal to cope with in your life. Have you considered returning to counselling? This can be done through your local doctor. Even if they do not perform counselling, the GP can prepare a mental health care plan, which then gives you access to a psychologist using Medicare.

Depending on the psychologist, they may accept the Medicare fee only, or they may charge a small gap. This would allow you 12 visits a year. The first six would be covered by the original care plan, then you would need a review with your local doctor to get the next six visits. This would allow you to discuss your family situation and your concerns with a person who can provide support and guidance.

The Inheritance (Family Provision) Act covers your situation, whereby a child of a deceased person claims that the will of the deceased did not make adequate provision for the maintenance, education or advancement in life of that child. In the event of your mother’s death you have six months to make a claim after probate or letters of administration have been granted. It is therefore important to try and be aware of the situation and to seek legal advice promptly upon hearing of your mother’s death. Death and funeral notices published in The Advertiser are also available online in a searchable database.

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