Australia’s longest-serving prime minister passed away on May 16 at the age of 89. Now, a few months after the former PM’s death, his family is entering into a legal dispute over his will, The New Daily has reported.

According to reports, Bob Hawke’s daughter Rosslyn Dillon plans to contest the will of the late PM which reportedly gifts the vast majority of his estate to his biographer and second wife, Blanche d’Alpuget. Mr Hawke reportedly left $750,000 to each of his three children, including Ms Dillon, leaving the more sizeable residue to Ms d’Alpuget.

Ms Dillon will be contesting the division of the multimillion-dollar estate on the grounds that it fails to adequately provide for her proper maintenance, education or advancement in life, pursuant to Chapter 3 of the Succession Act 2006 (NSW) (Act). Section 60 (2) of the Act sets out 16 matters which may be considered by the Court in making a decision, including the nature and extent of the deceased person’s estate and any other matter the Court considers relevant. The Act looks at the “needs” of the plaintiff at the time of the hearing, leaving such considerations as the testator’s wishes separate. If the dispute cannot be resolved amicably between Ms Dillon and Ms d’Alpuget, the matter could head to the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

One family provision case involving a large estate was Blore v Lang [1960] HCA 73. In that case a daughter who was excluded from benefitting under her late father’s will, was awarded an amount equal to that of her surviving siblings despite being in a comfortable financial situation. In such cases, the Court tends to consider the moral duty/obligation that the deceased owed to the plaintiff, despite the perceived financial security of the individual. One needs to consider what ought to be provided to a beneficiary to ensure that the beneficiary can continue living the life they are accustomed to. The provision must be adequate for the “proper” maintenance of the individual.

An application under the Act must be made within 12 months of the date of death and plaintiffs are strongly advised to seek independent legal advice as these proceedings can be legally complex and difficult to navigate. Whether you are the executor of an estate defending a claim or where you have been excluded as a beneficiary and want to contest a will, legal expertise can make all the difference in obtaining a successful resolution.

At Chamberlains, our Wills and Estates team will provide you with comprehensive advice on estate planning, will disputes and estate administration. As experts on will drafting and structuring, we are uniquely placed to provide the strategic advice you need.