Complex issue needs urgent professional advice

Complex will issue needs urgent professional advice.

Too late to contest this will?

Zivana has a complex question for estate planning expert Rod Cunich, one that is further complicated by the length of time that has passed since her father made his Will.   


Q. Zivana
My father came to Australia in 1937 with the intention of bringing his wife, my brother and I soon after his arrival. At that time I was a one-year-old and my brother was four.

Because of the war, my mother and I did not join him for 17 years. My brother stayed behind and, with our father’s help, studied law for six years, and although he did not pass, he joined us in Australia in 1960.

My father and brother made money building shops and offices. When my mother and I arrived, he bought 2.5 acres of land in his and my mother’s names. My brother developed the land into blocks and sold them.

My father, now deceased, made his Will in 1964 and on my mother’s insistence, left everything in my brother’s name, assuming he would look after her and me.

Is it too late to do anything? 

A: Your story suggests that your brother’s conduct might have been open to challenge by your mother and perhaps you. Whether the passing of time has left you without remedy is impossible to tell from the information you have provided. There are just too many variables.

You need someone to thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding your father’s will and your mother’s Will; and the likely prospect of any claim against your brother.

I recommend you engage a lawyer who specialises in the field of estates and trusts to urgently provide advice that is detailed and specific.

There may be remedies available, but the passing of time may have made it impossible to exercise your rights. Leaving things until your brother dies would be unadvisable.  

Disclaimer: This information has been provided by Rod Cunich and should be considered general in nature. Seek legal advice before acting on this information.

Rod Cunich is a lawyer with more than 30 years’ experience in estate planning. If you have a question for Rod, simply email it to


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    17th Apr 2018
    Watching women fight over the estate and will is almost impossible to believe till you have seen it a few times. Then watch them fight over a few bits of junk jewellery , all claws, is disgusting. Each thinking she is more entitled than the other. Usually when a man is involved you can see his wife pushing from behind. I know what to expect these days and I stand well back.
    18th Apr 2018
    Stop the sexist garbage, Tib. It's offensive and it's making people dislike you intensely. So you had a bad experience with women? Lots of women have bad experiences with men. The world is filled with drunken male abusers, men with no loyalty and no respect. That doesn't make all men bad. Men are just as greedy and money-hungry and unfair and disgusting as women. It's NOT a male/female thing. It's individual character. Show some respect and courtesy. You are coming across as one of those vile, disgusting, abusive men.
    18th Apr 2018
    Rainey blah blah blah. I'm as entitled to relate my experience with wills and estates as you are. If you want to be abusive, attack someone else I'm not interested.
    18th Apr 2018
    Thank you, OnlyGenuineRainey.
    I'm so sick of "sexist garbage". I'm going through it now with a MALE And a FEMALE going at it for the same thing. It is nice to see someone is sensible here.
    18th Apr 2018
    Tzuki as usual sexist garbage for a woman is anytime a man disagrees with her. At least you women are consistent, you're alway sexist and bias in your view. No wonder men won't marry you anymore.
    17th Apr 2018
    Fighting over an estate is not something limited to women. Men can be just as bad. Where money is concerned, forget about friends and family. My late former brother-in-law died and one of the three beneficiaries was my daughter, then 18. To witness the viciousness, the deception, and to hear the spitefulness and the lies coming from the husband of my former sister-on-law was appalling as he sought to gain advantage for his two children. And he was a Minister of the Baptist Church in Queensland.
    17th Apr 2018
    Where the body lies, there the ravens gather. They'll fight over which of them gets to peck out the eyes.
    18th Apr 2018
    Sorry to burst you bubble Tib, but not every woman fights over a will. When my father passed away he left his estate to be divided between his 9 children. There was not one argument. My Mum had died 20 years before Dad and we had not split up any of her jewellery, fur coat or her precious crystal which had been sitting in my safe. When we went through it there was enough there for everyone to have a piece of jewellery or crystal. No-one wanted the fur, so was given to someone who would wear it. My sister and I were the Executors and the Manager at the bank was surprised how easy we wound up his estate. She commented that she had to break up fights in the bank between families. I do agree with you though that many people (male and female) believe it is their right to expect everything. My family is far more important to me than a few pieces of jewellery and I have seen families that don't speak with each other because of greed.
    19th Apr 2018
    Fair enough. But my experience has always been the same. Women fighting over the stuff, I've yet to see it any other way. As you get older you see more and more funerals. Your experience may be the exception not mine?
    18th Apr 2018
    Hi Everyone,
    I must agree that gender issues aside, the Last Will & Testaments of deceased estates definitely do motivate SOME, not all people to behave in unseemly to unconscionably disgraceful and ultimately destructive ways that benefit nobody, short and/or long term.
    My Mother and Siblings found ourselves the target of a maliciously intentioned person whose nature was shaped by a Father who was often absent from home through employment on Merchant Vessels and Merchant Navy Vessels (during WWII) for long periods of time and a Mother who had already had 2 sons old enough to make number 3 12 years younger than number 2, at an age when she was already old enough to be needing near constant assistance raising her 3rd Child, which basically meant that number 3 ended up getting given whatever he wanted rather than his Mother having to exhaust herself resisting his persistent attempts to get what he wanted (e.g. "Muuuum, can you buy me a lolly etc?). As a result of this number 3 became a man (!?!) who would use whatever tactics, methods and tricks to get what he wanted, no matter how dirty or morally questionable the situation became. This ended up making our lives a complete misery when he became my Mother's Defacto then Husband and Business partner for the purpose of writing a Last Will and Testament designed for his own 2 Children to inherit everything (if our Mother died 1st) as HIS Deceased Estate while my Brothers and I were stuck with buying our share back. As time went by he (Mothers new Husband) became more and more abusive and hurtful to us until 1 of my Brothers had his 18th Birthday and was severely assaulted in a fist fight against him. Within 12 months he had managed to force me into a situation involving Child Welfare that included myself becoming a Foster Child by Court Order. These events occurred almost 4 decades ago and yet the main instigator of this behaviour is still acting as though he is entitled to having a share of our Mothers Estate (technically I guess he is by Law but then again his abusive behaviour is also now legally classified as Criminal which hopefully makes anything he receives proceeds of crime, if he is found guilty in a court of law). What makes it worse is that his Son in Law's family are (for want of a better term) "Well Connected Big Wigs" in our state.
    CH, Adelaide.

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