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Wills Dispute & Estate Lawyers

LEFT OUT OF A WILL?

If you are have been left out of a will or involved in some other dispute over a will or deceased estate you need an experienced, practical and costs effective will dispute lawyer to:

> listen to you while you tell your story
> identify your needs
> explain how the various laws governing will disputes applies in your case in plain English (not “legalese”)
> help you achieve your goals in a timely and low-cost way

My name is Greg Smith. I am a will dispute lawyer. For many years I have focused on helping people bring will disputes to a quick and successful conclusion.

Personal Care throughout your claim

I do not pass my clients on to junior solicitors after the initial meeting. I maintain a “hands on” role with a client’s claim from our initial contact to the end of your matter. You deal only with me until your claim is finished. You will also have access to me by mobile, email and skype.

Some people I have helped over the years include:

Bob* lived and cared for his brother until the brother died of cancer . After the funeral the family wanted Bob to move out of the house leaving him with nowhere to live. When I took on the case I made sure Bob was allowed to remain in his brother’s house while Bob’s claim was prepared. Within 15 months the case was in court. After a hearing of less than an hour Bob had won his case. The court awarded Bob enough money to buy a comfortable unit in his local area.

Ted’s* defacto partner of 12 years died without updating her will made many years before they had met. With my help, Ted will receive over 80% of her $1.5m estate on the sale of the townhouse. The claim settled at mediation without going to court within 13 weeks .Ted now has enough to relocate himself and their 2 fox terriers in Sydney.

Julie* received over $80,000 as an out of court settlement from her friend’s estate. Julie had lived with her friend in the same household and had provided her with care and support.

I invite you to review the material on these pages and trust you will find it useful.

Ring me on O 02 9262 5877 or O 1300 132 242 for the cost of a local call, or email me on m gsmith@gregorysmithlaw.com.au for an initial free consultation.

This website cannot and should not be an alternative to a meeting to discuss your personal circumstances and should not be relied upon in isolation as legal advice.

We recently helped Merrilyn who has written to us:

My dear Greg,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your help and guidance regarding my gift from my father’s will. I don’t know if you realise what your help meant to me. You were able to negotiate a much fairer outcome for me. Even though I lived in another state to that which my father resided and passed away, you made sure I was aware of what was going on at all times and what all my options were. When I came to Sydney for mediation, you came and met me the afternoon before so that I would know a friendly face when I got to chambers. It was a very difficult time for me, which you made a lot easier. Your help in a fair outcome has been life changing for me. You are a very honest and ethical man and I would recommend your services to anyone. A lot of other firms advertise that they “care” and fight for fair, but unless you already have money and the estate if quite big, they are not interested in you at all. Again, thank you for all your help. You have made a great difference to my life.

– Cheryl K

About GHS Legal

Lower Fees

I do not have large offices with high rents and big wages bills for junior solicitors (lower overheads) which means my fees are usually much lower than those of similarly experienced lawyers in larger firms. Lower fees means more money in your pocket after a settlement.

Convenient CBD Location

I work from modern offices in Market St Sydney close to the Supreme Court and a 5 minute walk from both bus and rail transport.

About Gregory Smith

> I started to practice as a solicitor in July 1980 after completing degrees at Sydney University (Economics and Law).
> I have practiced continuously as a solicitor predominantly in Sydney CBD. By arrangement, I can interview clients in Port Macquarie and Forster.
> Since July 1989 I have been a partner in my own firm.
> Over my 30 year career, I have protected the legal rights of people from many backgrounds and ethnic origins.

The Law

Below are links to examples of will dispute cases from a publicly available website that have gone to court. Most settle out of court, however and details of those cases remain confidential:

  • Hogan v Hogan; Adult Son

    SUCCESSION – FAMILY PROVISION – The Plaintiff, a son of the deceased, applies for a family provision order under Chapter 3 of the Succession Act 2006 – The Defendant is the husband of the deceased and the father of the Plaintiff – Deceased left Will – No provision for the Plaintiff – Whether adequate and proper provision not made in Will of the deceased for the Plaintiff and if so the nature and quantum of the provision to be made Read More

  • Kohari v Snow; Adult Son

    SUCCESSION – The Plaintiff makes a claim for a family provision order as a child of the deceased – Defendant is a solicitor and the executor appointed in the Will of the deceased, to whom Probate was granted -The principal beneficiaries are the grandchildren of the deceased – Competing claimants as beneficiaries on the bounty of the deceased although not eligible persons under the Act – Whether family provision order should be made for the Plaintiff and if so nature of the order Read More

  • Goldsmith v Goldsmith; Adult son

    SUCCESSION – The Plaintiff makes a claim for a family provision order as a child of the deceased – Defendant also one of the children of the deceased and the executor appointed in the Will of the deceased, to whom Probate was granted – Other residuary beneficiary also a child of the deceased – Conduct of the Plaintiff towards the deceased in issue – Whether family provision order should be made for the Plaintiff and if so nature of the order Read More

  • Lowe v Lowe; Adult son

    SUCCESSION – FAMILY PROVISION – The Plaintiff, a son of the deceased, applies for a family provision order under Chapter 3 of the Succession Act 2006 – The Defendants are family members and trustee company – Deceased left Will – Provision for the Plaintiff in form of special disability trust – Explanation given – Estate of reasonable value but not large – Whether adequate and proper provision not made in Will of the deceased for the Plaintiff and if so the nature and quantum of the provision to be made – Order for provision made Read More

  • Dudic v Jakovljevic; Adult daughter

    SUCCESSION – FAMILY PROVISION – The Plaintiff, a daughter of the deceased, applies for a family provision order under Chapter 3 of the Succession Act 2006 – The Defendant is the widow of the deceased – Deceased left no Will – No provision for the Plaintiff under the rules of intestacy – Very small estate – Whether adequate and proper provision not made for the Plaintiff and, if so, the nature and quantum of the provision to be made – Order for lump sum Read More

  • Vidler v Ivimey; Defacto wife

    SUCCESSION – Plaintiff makes a claim for a family provision order – No dispute as to the Plaintiff’s eligibility as a person with whom the deceased was living in a de facto relationship at the date of his death – Defendant one of the children of the deceased by a prior marriage and the executor appointed in the Will of the deceased, to whom Probate was granted – Whether family provision order should be made bearing in mind the provision made in the Will, and if so, the nature and quantum of the further provision to be made Read More

  • Jones v Jones; Adult Child

    SUCCESSION – Two Plaintiffs, each a child of the deceased, makes a claim for a family provision order – No dispute as to eligibility – Some provision made for each Plaintiff in the Will of the deceased – Legacy to third child of the deceased – The Defendant and two grandchildren of the deceased are residuary beneficiaries – Small estate -Whether family provision order should be made for either Plaintiff, and if so, the nature and quantum of the further provision to be made – Order for provision for each Plaintiff – Necessary to make adjustment order under s 66 of the Act Read More

  • Aubrey v Kain; Notional Estate

    SUCCESSION – FAMILY PROVISION – The Plaintiff, a son of the deceased, applies for a family provision order under Chapter 3 of the Succession Act 2006 – The Defendant is a close friend of the deceased – Deceased left Will – No provision for the Plaintiff – Explanation given – Small estate and notional estate – Whether adequate and proper provision not made in Will of the deceased for the Plaintiff and if so the nature and quantum of the provision to be made – Property to be designated as notional estate – Order for lump sum Read More

Cases

Actual Case Histories of Successful Claims brought by GHS Legal

  • Cases
    K and G’s mother, J died leaving her entire Estate to her second husband, K. K and G are both adult women. K was married. Neither owned their own home and both were in financial difficulty. K’s husband suffered a severe illness and was unable to work. K and G sought our advice to contest the Will. K asserted that there was nothing in J’s Estate other than clothing and a small bank account .However , J’s superannuation was worth over $1m and K wanted it all. We advised K and G to challenge the will. When we investigated the Superannuation Deed and made inquiries as to its provisions, K had to concede that J’s $1 million did form part of her Estate and soon after came to the bargaining table wishing to settle the disputed will claim to avoid further legal costs. Within six months of seeking our assistance K and G (after coming to us after a bad experience with a larger Sydney firm) each both received over $230,000 from their late mother’s Estate without going to court to contest the will.
  • Cases
    C, a resident of New Zealand was her father’s only child. Her parents separated when she was very young but C maintained a relationship with her father W. W remarried and built up a substantial Estate. On his death, he left his entire Estate to B his then wife. B survived C’s father by only a few years and then left her entire Estate to her boyfriend. C wanted to contest her father’s will. After leaving her first;text-align:center choice Sydney solicitor to come to us C retained us to challenge her late father’s Will. Problems arose as the claim against the Estate was commenced well outside the 12 month time limit for disputing his will . Difficult legal issues arose but the matter was successfully settled out of Court on payment to C of $80,000 with the low settlement reflecting the lapse of time between her father’s date in 2000 and when she commenced her claim to contest the Will in 2011.
  • Cases
    E, a Vietnamese national married C and came to live with him in Australia. After an abusive alcohol influenced marriage, E left C taking with her their 3 young children. C died soon after, leaving his entire Estate to his brother and sister but nothing for E and his three young children. We advised E to challenge the will. The Estate was not a large one but E was successful in obtaining a settlement of her will dispute claim less than 12 months after first coming to see us for $125,000 without going to Court.
  • Cases
    P came to us wanting to contest the Will of his late mother-in-law S on behalf of his two young children A and J. R was the only child of S who had died tragically when A and J were very young. P had struggled to raise them since. S died in July 2012 leaving a Will made in 1989 in favour of a friend. There was no money left for S’s grandchildren A and J. S’s Estate was valued at over $1 million. We started action to contest S’s will in early 2013 . In a Mediation in July 2013 the will dispute claim was settled on the basis that each of A and J would receive 14.25% of the net Estate (a sum or an excess of $140,000 each). A’s settlement was held in trust for her until she turned 18 as required by NSW law.
  • Cases
    G came to see us in late 2013 wishing to contest his late father’s Will. G’s father had died recently aged 86 years with six adult children. G was the youngest. The Estate was estimated at over $1 million. G’s father left each of his six children an equal share. G wished to dispute his father’s Will primarily in the basis that his family’s financial situation had suffered as he had remained in Sydney to care of his late father and his brothers’ and sisters’ financial position was far better than his. The claim was settled case in May 2015 and G’s family was able to move to Queensland with the settlement money to start a new life.
  • Cases
    H was an intellectually disabled adult child aged 32 years when his sister came to us seeking to contest the Will of their late father W. H had never been able to work and had no assets or liabilities. He had no income and he was totally reliant on his mother for support who was then 72 years of age and with an only income of her age pension. W had been in a longstanding de facto relationship with H’s mother but they had never married. H’s parents separated in 1991 and W made no further contact nor offered to assist H’s mother raise the children. H’s sister investigated and found out in 2006 that their father had died in 2001 (over 5 years previously and outside the time limit to challenge the will) leaving his entire estate to his sister. Even though the disputed will claim was made out of the 12 month time limit we successfully contested W’s Will . After a mediation, H received a life changing settlement plus his legal costs in settlement of his claim. H was able to challenge his father’s Will even though his claim was brought out of time on the grounds he had a satisfactory explanation (he was unaware of his W’s death and promptly challenged the Will on becoming aware of his father’s death).
  • Cases
    M’s mother died in 2007 leaving a Will dated six years previously and which left 1/3 of her Estate to each of M, his brother P and sister A. M suffered from anxiety and depression and had been unable to maintain regular employment for many years. He rented privately and did not have any savings. He was in receipt of Disability benefits. After a short meeting to obtain the details, we recommended M contest his mother’s Will. Apart from issues that proper and adequate provision (as required under the NSW law when challenging a Will) was not made for M (his financial position being far worse than that of P) we investigated some odd dealings by P under his mother’s Power of Attorney prior to her death. Questions were raised by us in settlement negotiations as to whether a sum of about $200,000 missing from the sale of his mother’s unit before she died was a debt owed to her Estate to which M was entitled as to 1/3 under the Will. We investigated the documents by obtaining searches at the Land & Property Information Service of New South Wales. At a Court appointed Mediation, (within seven months of first seeking our help), M settled his will dispute claim a sum of about 45% of the estate.

Testimonials

Below are some testimonials from clients over the years.

  • Testimonials
    Dear Greg,

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your help and guidance regarding my gift from my father’s will.

    I don’t know if you realise what your help meant to me. You were able to negotiate a much fairer outcome for me. Even though I lived in another state to that which my father resided and passed away, you made sure I was aware of what was going on at all times and what all my options were. When I came to Sydney for mediation, you came and met me the afternoon before so that I would know a friendly face when I got to chambers.

    It was a very difficult time for me, which you made a lot easier. Your help in a fair outcome has been life changing for me. You are a very honest and ethical man and I would recommend your services to anyone.

    A lot of other firms advertise that they “care” and fight for fair, but unless you already have money and the estate if quite big, they are not interested in you at all.

    Again, thank you for all your help. You have made a great difference to my life – Cheryl K

  • Testimonials
    Hi Greg

    I just want to say thank you for all your hard work that you have done for us. An amazing job you have changed our lives . I would say to you I trust you with my life. I knew that I was in good hands. I would recommend you in an instant so Greg thank you so so much.

    Jan

  • Testimonials
    Recently I found myself needing the services of a solicitor due to a mess my brother left me to deal with in re-guards to my mother’s WILL not sure what to do I looked on my computer and Mr Gregory (Greg) Smith name popped out at me, and with out his help I would have lost half of my mother’s house and monies which I am so grateful for, Greg explained everything to me along the way so I could understand what was happening also recommending the best way to do things. If the need for a solicitor was ever warranted again my phone call would be to Greg.

    There for I wouldn’t hesitate recommending Mr Gregory Smith should you ever need a solicitor

    Joanne

  • Testimonials
    My dear Greg,

    I have nothing but praise for you as a lawyer and as a human being and for the way you handled everything with my case. I deeply appreciate all the effort you have put in on my behalf.

    You have demonstrated repeatedly that you are a man of principle and integrity, and the best of human qualities are alive and well within you. I have good news for you too – with the settlement money you were able to acquire for me, I am now the proud owner of a 2012 Ford Fiesta hatchback ( a deep torquoise colour) and she is just beautiful. I also have a beautiful new lounge. This would not have been possible without your help. Therefore, I will always hold you in high esteem and whenever you come to mind, I think of you with warmth, admiration and appreciation. I would highly recommend you and your associates to anyone needing such services.

    Yours most sincerely,

    Merrilyn Anne

  • Testimonials
    I found Greg Smith very approachable, he made legal jargon understandable in plain English, and when it came to represent my Mother he was very professional and understood every step of the way and won the case for my Mother. Greg Smith is good at what he does, he knows the Law. I recommend GHS Legal (Greg Smith) just have a chat with him you won’t regret it.

    Julio

  • Testimonials
    I was my grandmother’s long term carer for about 18 years and even though I was named as a beneficiary in my her estate Greg was able to get me a fairer settlement. I would recommend Greg to anyone, I was able to speak to him as often as I needed and he answered my questions promptly and accurately.

    Martyn

  • Testimonials
    Greg, I’d like to thank you for your hard work recently in handling my matter. You are a lawyer with high ethics and professionalism, with a broad knowledge base. You are available to talk to me whenever I need and I always feel confident that you will protect my best interest. It’s a relief to know you’re there when I need you.

    Con

  • Testimonials
    I have found him to be efficient, honest and trustworthy.
    He takes the time to explain the procedures patiently.
    It has always been a pleasure dealing with Greg.

    Colin

  • Testimonials
    My father died 2 years ago and the estate left me by my father was being plundered by a woman that he had a relationship with and that was over.

    I had originally used another firm and after 12 months of nothing (except a large legal bill) I was dropped because I could not raise another $25,000.00. I was left with nothing being done and nowhere to turn and the real possibility that I would lose all to this woman.

    As faith would have it I came across GhS legal. Within about 2 months Greg had my claim well underway. He kept me informed at all times. He treated me as a person. The final outcome I am happy with, as I could have lost all and just ended up with nothing and a huge legal bill.

    I would recommend Greg to anyone who needs a honest person to help. Thanks Greg.

    Peter

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I be sent a bill for my initial enquiry if I do not proceed?

You will not be sent a bill for the initial consultation if you do not proceed with your claim.

Can I make a claim?

> a surviving husband or wife of the deceased person;
> a person living in a de facto relationship with the deceased person at the time of their death
> a child of the deceased person (including an adopted child);
> a former (i.e. divorced) wife or husband of the deceased person;
> a person who was a dependent upon the deceased person and who is
> * a grandchild of the deceased person or
> * was a member of the household of the deceased person at any time;
> a person who is living in a close personal relationship with the deceased person at the time of death.

I am named in the will. Can I make a claim for more money?

Where a deceased person fails to make adequate and proper provision in their will the Court may increase any gift under a will.

What is the time limit in NSW to make a claim?

If the deceased died before March 2009 the time period is 18 months from the date of death. If the deceased died after March 2009 the time limit is only 12 months after the date of death. In either case circumstances may exist which allow the Court to extent the time to make a claim. You must file papers in Court within the relevant time limit. If you have a good claim it is far better to take action promptly and avoid delay. If the estate is distributed before you make a proper claim complications can arise.

How do I make a claim?

The claim is commenced by filing papers in Court (usually the Supreme Court of NSW). Usually, in cases involving small estates, attempts are made to settle a claim through negotiation without the need to file papers in Court.

How long does a claim for money from an estate take?

> a timetable is set out for the filing of evidence (including witness statements)
> the parties participate in compulsory mediation (usually within a few months of making the claim).
> most cases settle either at mediation or before the matter is heard by a judge.
> usually, if the matter cannot be settled, the matter will be heard by a judge within 18 months of filing the papers in Court.

Do I have to go to court?

No, most cases settle out of Court but if the matter cannot be settled then we will have to fight your case and a judge will make a decision as to your claim.

Can I only claim the money?

No. A money sum is the most common award made in a claim. However, the Court can be flexible in granting for example the right to occupy a certain residence for a specified period, the setting up of a trust fund and so on.

My parents are both dead. I have 2 brothers and a sister. Can I claim for an equal share?

The simple answer is no. Where there is a will the Court will be most concerned about the unmet needs of yourself and your dependents on a financial basis. That may result in you being awarded a greater or lesser sum than your brother and sister.

My father died overseas but left assets in New South Wales. Can I make a claim in NSW?

Yes, but the Court only has the power to award you money from the assets in NSW.

My wife gave all her money to a charity just before she died. Can I still make a claim?

Where the remaining estate is not adequate to satisfy an award the Court can “claw back” gifts made within 3 years of death if made to defeat a claim and 12 months in any event.

Who pays my legal costs?

If the matter goes to Court and you win the case the Court will usually order the estate to pay your legal costs in addition to the sum awarded. When negotiating an out of Court settlement your legal costs are taken into account in settlement offers.

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