Radical Changes to the laws governing Estate Challenges and Estate Disputes are currently being debated in Victorian Parliament. The proposed Justice Legislation Amendment (succession and Surrogacy) Bill 2014 would drastically reduce the category of potential claimants.
Among many other changes, the proposed new regime would preclude a non-dependent adult child from bringing a claim against their parent’s estate.
Estate Lawyers Melbourne believe that if passed, this legislation would lead to a gross injustice. We have written to several Members of Parliament to oppose passage of the bill. A copy of that correspondence has been printed below:-
We note that the Justice Legislation Amendment (Succession and Surrogacy) Bill 2014 (‘the Bill’) was introduced to the Victorian Parliament on 19 August 2014.
We write to complain that the Bill is unfairly restrictive in preventing claims by adult children not partially or wholly dependent on the deceased.
The potential adverse effects of such legislation include:-
- To unjustly preclude excluded but deserving adult children bringing a claim; and
- Increasing the susceptibility of elderly or frail testators to undue influence. We anticipate that this may result in an exponential increase in the number of undue influence claims.
The proposed Bill would make Victoria a disproportionately restrictive jurisdiction for Testator Family Maintenance Claims compared to other Australian states. This is both unfair and unjust.
The proposed changes would regress Victorian law to the onerous and restrictive regime in place prior to the enactment of the Wills Act (VIC) 1997.
We recognise that the current ‘criteria-test’ system has allowed opportunistic claims and in principle we do not object to the more restrictive category based system. The Law Reform Commission Report made some salient recommendations in this regard.
It is however, deeply troubling that the Bill disregards many of the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission and proposes to exclude claims by adult children who, in our experience, constitute the bulk of genuine hardship claims. Such legislation would have frightening consequences and we implore you to prevent it passing without amendments to allow legitimate claims by adult children.