When you die without a will, you leave a tricky situation for those you leave behind.
The case of Lowrey v Jonathan is a good illustration of these impacts:
Lowrey v Jonathan
This is a case about a child who denied that her mother was in a de facto relationship with the plaintiff, Mr Lowrey. When her mother died, she obtained letters of administration without his knowledge.
Mr Lowrey claimed to be in a de facto relationship with the deceased despite living in Australia. He claimed that his partner (Ms Jonathan’s mother) had always intended to move to Australia to be with him, but was couldn’t as she was refused entry at the border.
He kept in touch with the deceased and financially supported her whilst he was living in Australia. The judge also relied on diary entries in which the deceased spoke plainly and openly about her love for Mr Lowrey. When Ms Jonathan’s mother died, she obtained letters of administration and ultimately used her mother’s assets to the benefit of her and her brother. She did not provide for or consider Mr Lowrey.
Mr Lowrey sought to be identified as the deceased’s partner, and to be afforded the rights associated with such. He claimed that his position was consistent with the deceased’s wishes.
The court found in favour of Mr Lowrey.
Lessons from the case
- Honesty is always the best policy. Whether you are the partner, or the child of a deceased – if you genuinely feel that there has been an error made in the reading of a will. Or, as in this case, the lack of a will – do not make assumptions of what the deceased would have wanted.
- Seek legal advice regarding your concerns and do not do anything rash. It is always best to have clean hands when dealing with family disputes, particularly over a will.