Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Claims against deceased estates by intimate companions and lovers

The recent 2011 Victorian Supreme Court case of  Whitehead v State Trustees gives considerable pause for thought. In this case the Claimant did not live with the deceased. She was simply sleeping with him for around ten years before his death. Indeed she became pregnant to another man after the relationship with the deceased commenced. The deceased was nuts about the woman and promised to take care of  her and her child even though the child was by another man. The deceased never married and was much much older than the Claimant. The deceaseds will was very old and was made prior to his relationship with the Claimant. The Supreme Court awarded the Claimant the sum of $450,000.00  to enable her to purchase a suitable home. The Court awarded a further $400,000.00 to the Claimants 10 year old child even though he was not the child of the deceased.
Clearly this case is generous to the Claimant and puts further pressure on the boundaries of when provision will be ordered by the Court. Whilst one cannot now deduct that lovers will simply be automatically entitled after this decision, clearly, and subject to the evidenciary hurdles that the Claimant had to overcome, lovers are, in certain circumstances, going to make claims on the estates of deceased persons in the future because of the generosity of the Court in this decision.