New Zealand family’s contest of parents’ will thrown out by court

Date: Feb 08, 2020

A lawsuit brought by the daughter of a wealthy South Otago, New Zealand farmer that contested her parents’ wills has been dismissed by a judge, according to the news network Stuff. In her ruling, the judge stated that the amount of money the daughter had been awarded “met the test of fulfilling [the mother’s] moral duty … to make adequate provision” and that the “forensic accounting analysis over their estate” was not in the spirit of what the late parents would have wanted. The parents’ wills, and the ensuing legal action, have been a source of strife for the couple’s four daughters.

An Equal Split

Much of the issues surrounding the couples’ wills stemmed from the parents’ untraditional approach to ensuring all of their daughters were paid equally. It factored in gifts and financial assistance given during their lifetimes, rather than an even four-way split of the estate.

When the family’s father died in 1997, his eldest daughter received nothing from his will, in part because she’d already been able to purchase the extremely lucrative family farm from him at significant discount. One of her younger sisters, meanwhile, received half of the estate. The eldest daughter began legal proceedings, but ultimately dropped the case. Yet when the sibling’s mother passed away in 2015, a similar situation occurred. This time it was the family’s youngest daughter who filed a lawsuit. The action argued that her mother’s will did not provide for her at an equal level to her siblings.

Deciding the Case

To decide this new case, lawyers performed a careful analysis of each of the daughters’ benefits. The analysis’ results determined that each daughter had received a relatively similar percentage of the estate, amounting to well over $1 million apiece.

Ultimately, the judge of the case decided to throw out the lawsuit, declaring that the entire process of analysing benefits was unnecessary.

“While I accept that she and her husband intended to see these benefits were distributed with a view to achieving approximate equivalence, I do not accept that they intended to achieve equivalence through the sort of forensic accounting analysis which has subsequently been undertaken for these proceedings,” said the judge.

Cases like that of this family can often be extremely emotionally trying. Whether contesting or challenging a will, Gerard Malouf and Partners is here to guide you through each step of the process and get you the payment that you deserve.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.