Claims By Non Relatives

For well over a decade now, Victoria has had the most liberal will claims regime in Australia.

In the past, Victorian claims were restricted to widows, children and (later) defactos.

Nowadays, anyone can claim. The new tests are moral duty and financial need.

Did the deceased have a moral duty to include you in the will? This is a very subjective question and allows the Court a wide discretion.

Are you in financial need? Once again, a very elastic concept, which again allows the Court a wide discretion.

In terms of moral duty, non-relatives did not fare very well in the beginning of the new Victorian regime.

Pretty early on (2002), the Victoria Supreme Court ruled out claims by non-relatives, saying that acts of selfless generosity by neighbours and friends could not mean that they could claim the deceased had a moral duty to include them in the will.

But 2009 saw the Victorian Supreme Court decision in Unger v Sanchez.

Mrs Unger was a neighbour of the deceased, who took over her care after her husband’s death in circumstances where the deceased’s closest relatives lived in Spain and were unable to help. Mrs Unger’s selfless devotion to the deceased’s care in her final years was so great that the Court viewed her as a defacto daughter and awarded her substantial provision from the deceased’s estate.

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