Estranged children making a claim on their parent’s estate

Estrangement is a relevant factor in determining the strength of a child’s claim on their deceased parent’s estate. Even though the estrangement will likely be taken into account, even long periods of estrangement will not prevent a successful claim.

Estrangement between a parent and child may reduce the moral claim that the child has to maintenance, education and advancement in life from the parent’s estates, but it is uncommon for estrangement to be the sole cause of an unsuccessful claim.

Justice Holland in one case involving estrangement said:

[…] some friction between parent and child or disappointment in a parent’s hopes and expectations concerning his child will be accepted by the wise parent as almost inevitable.  If it occurs, the parent who is just as well as wise will not allow such disharmony or disappointment to blind him to the needs of his child for maintenance, education or advancement in life.  The duty of a parent towards his child to provide for those needs on his death, if he can, continues in spite of such disharmony or disappointment […][i]

The Court is to take a wide view and determine what provision a wise and just parent would have made in the circumstances.

When looking at the estrangement, the Court will often consider the cause of the estrangement, and the conduct of both the parent and the child. The Court may also consider the length of the estrangement and whether either party has attempted to communicate with the other or resolve their difference.

There may be at times, such an extreme set of circumstances where the Court may not interfere with the wishes of the deceased and not award provision or further provision to an estranged child. In one case, a son aged 50, had no involvement in his father’s life for 46 years. He was unsuccessful in his claim.[ii] However, he was also financially secure, did not know his father and never attempted to communicate with him.

Along with the relationship between the parent and child, the Court will take into account a variety of other factors including the:

  1. Size and nature of the estate;
  2. Child’s age and health;
  3. Child’s financial position and means;
  4. Whether the child contributed to the deceased’s estate;
  5. Provision made to the child by the deceased during their lifetime; and
  6. Relationship between the deceased and other persons who may have a claim on the deceased’s estate.

If your parent recently passed away and you are wondering whether you can make a claim on their estate or contest their will, then you should contact us to discuss. Even if you were estranged from your parent for several years, you may still be successful in a claim.

If you have been left out of a Will call our Wills and Estates lawyers on 13 43 63 to contest or challenge this Will. Our offices in South Australia are in Adelaide and Whyalla.

[i] Kleinig v Neal (No 2) [1981] 2 NSWLR 532 at [540]

[ii] Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith v Scales (1962) 107 CLR 9