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Wives, Women and Wills a better combination?

In Bailey v Palombo[2020] NSWSC 1209  A man died unexpectedly at the age of 55 years with net assets of about $3.5m and no Will was found.  A dispute arose as to who was entitled to his estate.  He died still married but he had separated from his wife of 27 years and he had entered into a new relationship which he successfully kept secret from his wife and his children for about 7 years before he died.  Hallen J discussed how he arrived at the conclusion that there was a de facto relationship which is a useful discussion to read.  Since there was no distribution agreement, the next question was how to “justly and equitably” divide the assets between the 2 women.  The Judge helpfully listed a series of relevant criteria he used to consider this question which criteria are similar to the s60(2) factors used for family provision claims, for example, the size of the estate, the contributions made by each woman, their ages and health and financial resources.  The case provides good guidance if ever the problem arises, for helping parties to reach an agreement rather than engage in expensive litigation.  It also provides ample justification for making a Will.

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