The High Court has awarded $950,000 each to two daughters who were left out of their mother’s Will.

The mother provided for only one of her children in her Will, excluding her other children, including the two daughters. The daughter who was provided for lived with the mother and the pair had a very close relationship.

The two other daughters claimed that their mother had a duty to provide for them in her Will, and that she had failed to do so. They claimed that they were both in financial hardship, and the mother had a moral duty to support them through this hardship.

The daughter who was provided for argued that she should receive all of her mother’s estate as she had contributed to her mother’s property purchases, and had provided her mother care in the years leading up to her death.

The Court found that the daughter was unable to prove her contribution to the mother’s properties during her lifetime was significant. The Court further found that whilst the daughter had provided care for her mother in her final years, it could not be said that this care was to such a degree that it absolved the mother of her duty to provide for her other children.

The Court decided that there had been a significant breach of the mother’s duty to her other daughters, and that they were therefore each entitled to 18% of their late mother’s estate. This was equal to $950,000 each. The other daughter retained approximately 64% of the estate.

As this case illustrates there is no presumption of equality as between siblings and wills are only altered by a Court to the extent necessary to remedy the breach of moral duty.

If the mother had had a better understanding of her moral duties to all of her children, the claims by the two daughters could have been avoided.

If there is confusion around the writing or executing of wills, it is wise to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area

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