Following a family argument with her father, Kate is concerned that she will not receive items promised in her mother’s will. Does she have any legal way of finding out if she has been disinherited?
Q. I am 52 and after a disagreement regarding my personal life in June this year, my father told me he was going to disinherit me. He was not very stable at the time and I do not know whether this has improved. I know my mother was very specific in her will as to who should receive certain items of furniture and personal belongings. My father is still living in the family home, and until he passes away, these items will remain with him.
My brother is the executor of my parents’ will and his wife does not like me. My concern is that my father might change his will and exclude me completely, leaving everything to my brother. Am I able to contest this based on the will my parents made before my mother passed away?
How can I find out if my father has in fact changed the will based on an emotional knee-jerk reaction to something he said in the heat of the moment?
I am going to ask my brother for a copy of the will, but am doubtful that he will provide me with it.
A. Legal information provided by Rod Cunich, Slater & Gordon
Kate, unfortunately, if your father and brother refuse to tell you, then there is no legal way of finding out if your father has changed his will. You do fall within the category of eligible beneficiaries who can challenge your father’s will once he passes away, but we cannot speculate on your chances of success.
Before you start worrying about whether you have been disinherited, it may be worth taking the time to try and mend the rift with your father. I understand that you may be hurt and angry about what was said, but four months is a long time not to have spoken to your father, whom I gather is not in the best of health. I also understand that you are keen to ensure you receive the items promised to you by your mother, but surely it’s more important to find out about the health of your father.
Your brother’s wife not liking you has no bearing on whether or not you have contact with your father. This is the most important relationship for you to address, as once he’s gone, you will have missed your chance.