Claims against an estate for breach of a testamentary promise

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Any person can bring a claim against an estate of a deceased person where they are able to demonstrate that:

a) a promise, whether express or implied was made to them by the deceased to make some provision for them in their will in return for services to be provided by the claimant, and

b) services were then provided by the claimant to the deceased in reliance on the promise.

The promise itself doesn’t need to be express or in writing. As with most contested cases, relying on verbal promises or assurances is very difficult. It is easier to prove that a promise was made if it is in writing.

“Services” that are provided that are really in the nature of the normal sort of thing that any claimant might do for a loved one will not be sufficient to amount to the requisite “services”. Again, a written tabulated record of the services that have been performed, independently corroborated, as important.

The relevant statute under which such claims are brought is the Law Reform (Testamentary Promises) Act 1949. The same time limits apply to the bringing of such claims as those that arise under the Family Protection Act 1955.

This article is not a substitute for legal advice about your own individual situation. Every case can be different so please seek legal advice or contact me direct for advice that applies to you.