Proving dependency – can a grandchild contest a will? Which case won?
Grandmother dies without seeing granddaughter in 15 years
A woman became a grandmother when her only child, a daughter, gave birth to a girl in 1995.
Sadly, the woman’s daughter committed suicide in 1996 when the granddaughter was just 18 months old.
The granddaughter then lived with her father at various locations in the Brisbane area and in regional parts of NSW.
She visited her grandmother between 2000 and 2003.
However, from 2003 until the grandmother’s death in September 2017, the grandmother and granddaughter did not see each other again.
Grandmother’s new will reduces granddaughter’s share of estate
In 2009 the grandmother had made a will granting small gifts to some of her friends and making her granddaughter her primary beneficiary.
In April 2017, the grandmother visited the solicitor who had drafted her 2009 will and told him that she wished to change her will.
He prepared a new will, which the grandmother signed later that same day.
In this will, the grandmother left just twenty per cent of her estate to her granddaughter and split the remainder equally between four friends.
There was no dispute that the grandmother enjoyed a close and long-standing relationship with these friends.
Grandmother dies and granddaughter challenges will
On 8 September 2017, at the age of eighty-seven, the grandmother died.
She left behind an estate worth about $920,000.
The granddaughter, who was not happy that she would receive less under the 2017 will than under the 2009 will, challenged the 2017 will.
She argued that the 2017 will was invalid due to her grandmother’s incapacity at the time of signing that will.
This claim was rejected by the court.
However, she also argued that irrespective of the terms of the 2017 will, she was entitled to a family provision order granting her the whole of her grandmother’s estate.
To succeed, the granddaughter had to establish, among other things, that she was wholly or partially dependent on her grandmother.