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Commence a Will Contest Claim: Farming sister cannot prove financial need

A woman who is quite poor and was brought up on the family farm, has found that when her

mother died everything had gone to the two brothers who worked the farms all their lives.

She gets nothing except a small bank account. Her contribution to the family farm was

minimal: as soon as she could she started working in the local town and it was her brothers

who helped the parents. Is she entitled to contest the Will?

Comments by Wills & Estate Specialist – Terry Johansson

Based on the above, she appears to have financial need, and although it is unfair for

everything to go to the two brothers she will find that there will be some opposition if she

tries to bring a claim, as her claim is not strong. Firstly this is a “lumpy asset” which means

that the Court will be reluctant to order the sale of the farm to provide her with a benefit,

particularly when she contributed nothing directly to the building up of that asset. This is

because it is the brothers who helped the parents build up the assets, and the courts may be

reluctant to order a sale of the farm to meet any award that she is entitled to. Secondly, she

did not make a large contribution to the building of any other of the family assets.

Nevertheless the Court may order the brothers to pay her a lump sum, and they can then

mortgage the farm to help raise the loan monies, in order to pay her out. As she has

contributed nothing to the farm, she cannot say that she has an “equity” in the farm, so as to

give her partial ownership. The best hope for her will be if the brothers are able to raise the

finance to pay any award, rather than the court having to order that the farm be sold.