Probate and Estate Administration: Successful Challenge to Deceased Estate from Secret Domestic Partner

Deceased Estate in SA

A recent court decision in Victoria (Estrella v McDonald) is one of Australia’s first reported judgments resolving a claim for family provision involving a same-sex relationship.

The claimant said that he and the deceased had been in a secret de-facto relationship for 30 years, after they met in 1978 when the claimant was 17 and the deceased was 51.

The claimant said that he and the deceased had commenced a sexual relationship and that he had moved away from his family in the Philippines to live with the deceased’s family for several years. During the deceased’s final years, the claimant was living overseas.

During his life, the deceased had denied that the relationship was sexual in nature as he had apparently been embarrassed to publicly or openly acknowledge the relationship, for fear that it may not be accepted by their families or community.

The deceased had made no provision for the claimant in his Will, which solely benefitted the deceased’s children who defended the claimant’s allegations on the basis that their father and the claimant were “just friends” and that the claimant lived in their home as a boarder.

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Administering a Deceased Estate Takes Care and Skill

In a 2014 Judgment, the Supreme Court of Queensland ruled that the administrator of a deceased estate breached her fiduciary duty by applying for her deceased son’s superannuation benefits to be paid to her personally, rather than on behalf of his estate.

This is an example of where a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Probate and Deceased Estate administration is a specialised area of law. Don’t be fooled into believing the lady at the hairdresser or the bloke down the pub who says that it is easy to do this yourself, or that the lawyer who handled your divorce, or your uncle’s drink-driving offence, can easily do this. If you pay peanuts, you’re very likely to get monkeys.

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What Do Trustees of a Deceased Estate Do?

What Do Trustees of a Deceased Estate Do

An executor of a deceased estate in Adelaide is responsible for administering the estate according to the terms of the Will and ensuring that all taxes and debts are paid. Trustees of a deceased estate, on the other hand, often have a longer and more complicated job that in some cases can last for years or even decades.

If you have been appointed as a trustee of a testamentary trust, you have certain legal requirements to uphold, and any failure to comply can leave you personally liable for financial losses suffered.

The best way to ensure that you understand your responsibilities and carry them out appropriately is to consult with a specialist Adelaide probate and estate administration law firm as soon as possible.

What is a Trust?

You can think of a trust as a type of container. Inside the container is something to be protected. This is called the trust fund.  It is being held in safekeeping for the benefit of one or more people or entities, called beneficiaries.

A trustee is appointed to take control of the trust until a future date, at which time the trust fund is passed on to the beneficiaries. The trustee can be an individual or a private company appointed by the deceased.