Elder abuse – wills and suspicious circumstances

Posted on March 9th, 2017

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Helping elderly parents write a new Will can create difficulties, particularly if there are disputes in the family.

In a recent case of Estate Stojic, Deceased [2017] NSWSC 168, Mr Stojic had 5 children from different partners.  His last Will was made shortly before he died.  Mr Stojic ran a business and he chose one of his sons to run his company after his death.

He therefore gave assets to this son in preparation for his son taking over the business.  His other children learned about this development and campaigned for their father to change his Will and to give them a better deal.   Questions arose whether as a result of their pressure Mr Stojic had freely made his last Will.  Mr Stojic was very frail.  He could not sign his Will and instead made a thumb print.  On the evidence, it was found that he did not freely make his last Will and that his hand was guided on the page.  Thus, in situations where there are likely to be disputes, proof must be available that the Will-maker understood and freely made his or her Will.   Solicitors can help to ensure that this is the case.

Felicity Wardhaugh is a Special Counsel at Mullane & Lindsay, and practises extensively in Wills and Estate Planning, Commercial and other Litigation and Employment Law. If you require any assistance in these areas please contact Felicity Wardhaugh or contact our Newcastle office.

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