Are you the executor or administrator of the estate? If a Family Provision Application is made against the estate then you are obligated to defend the Application on behalf of the estate. This involves you considering the merits of the Family Provision Application and the best interests of all beneficiaries under the terms of the Will (if there is one) or the Rules of Intestacy (if the deceased died without leaving a valid Will).
What evidence do I need to defend a claim?
The executor submits evidence that is contrary to the evidence submitted by the claimant making the Family Provision Application. For example, the claimant may be alleging they had a significant financial dependency on the deceased and you have evidence that proves that the claimant can support themselves, then you would submit that evidence to the Court.
In addition, you may also bring evidence that there are grounds for disentitlement or reduction in provision to the claimant due to the claimant’s conduct towards the deceased during their lifetime. As a rule of thumb, the stronger the case for further provision from the estate, the more reprehensible the conduct must be to reduce the claim or exclude the claimant. Have a read through our previous blog, “Family Provision Application: Disentitling Conduct and Estrangement – an Overview” for further information on disentitling conduct.
How do I resolve a claim against the estate?
If a Family Provision Application has been made against the estate then there are plenty of opportunities to resolve the claim without proceeding to Court. In fact, we encourage all clients to resolve Family Provision Applications by negotiation, rather than Court proceedings. Resolving a claim by negotiation saves the estate the expense of responding to the Application, and also saves you and the beneficiaries of the estate a lot of time and stress.
That being said, if the estate and claimant are unable to resolve the Application by negotiation, then the claimant may choose to proceed with bringing their Application in the Court. This provides the claimant and the estate with a certainty that the Application will be resolved, whether that be in favour of the claimant or the estate.
Want to talk about your options?
Contact one of our succession law team members today and we can sit down to discuss your circumstances and what we can help you achieve.