Bob Hawke Estate Challenge: How Does a Claim of Inadequate Family Provision Work?

Bob Hawke’s daughter, Rosslyn Dillion, is preparing to make a family provision claim over the late Prime Minister’s will.  Upon his passing in May, Mr Hawke had a valid will in place which reportedly left over $15 million to his second wife, Blanche d’Alpuget. In a separate agreement, Mr Hawke’s three children, Susan Pieters-Hawke, Stephen Hawke and Rosslyn Dillon were each provided approximately $750,000. Ms d’Alpuget’s son, Louis Pratt was also provided the same amount.

Ms Dillion does not believe there are any other provisions for Mr Hawke’s children in his will, with Ms d’Alpuget being the sole beneficiary of his estate. Ms Dillion, now 58, intends to challenge the will on the basis of inadequate provision. Mr Hawke spoke of her heroin addiction in the 1980s, but it is unlikely that the estate will be able to argue this was a reason for the level of provision to Ms Dillion as all children received equal shares.

If a family member or dependant is left out of or not adequately provided for in a will, they may be able to make a family provision claim. To be eligible to make a family provisions claim, an individual must either be a wife or husband of the deceased at the time of death, a person in a de facto relationship at the time of death, child of the deceased, former wife or husband, grandchild, or member of the household who was at some point dependent on the deceased or a person whom the deceased was in a close personal relationship at the time of death (for example, two adult partners living together). This is not an exhaustive list and it is important you consult an experienced lawyer if you think your will may be able to be challenged on this basis.

The legal right to challenge:

Unless the dispute is resolved privately, the matter will be considered by the Supreme Court. The court will consider various factors such as Ms Dillion’s relationship with her father, her current financial circumstances and whether Mr Hawke provided for his daughter throughout her life. It’s been reported that Ms Dillion had a close relationship up until his death. If the court decides that the amount Ms Dillion received from the estate was insufficient to provide for her maintenance and advancement, then they may order a larger proportion of funds be allocated.

How can family provision claims be avoided?

It’s important that potential family provisions claims are considered when a will is drafted. You should try to envision any potential problems or arguments your loved ones may make and offer justifications or remedies for your actions. Issues such as estrangement, drug addiction or capacity are only some of the arguments that may be considered. If you want to avoid challenges to your will by family members or are considering making a family provision claim, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced team of lawyers.

Are you looking for an experienced estate planning solicitor in Newcastle, Sydney or the Hunter to assist you in your legal matter? Call us on (02) 4929 7002, email us or complete an enquiry form.