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Lambeff v. Farmers Co-operative Executors & Trustees Ltd

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    Bloomberg Law

    Brief Fact Summary. George Lambeff executed a will that did not include a provision for the plaintiff, his daughter from a previous marriage. The plaintiff seeks a provision from Lambeff’s estate under a statute that distributes a deceased’s estate to certain family members who were are financially supported by their relative in his or her will or through intestacy.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Under statutory law, a person domiciled in the State or owning real or personal property in the State and by reason of his testamentary dispositions or the operation of the laws of intestacy or both, a person entitled to claim the benefit of the Act is left without adequate provision for his proper maintenance, education or advancement in life, the Court may in its discretion, allow that person to receive such provision as the Court deems fit for the maintenance, education or advancement of the person entitled. That individual may also be precluded from receiving from the estate if their character or conduct is such as to disentitle him from the benefit of the Act. The phrase, “advancement in life” under the statute may apply to an earlier period in life in the members of the family. The words “proper” means all of the proper circumstances of a case including the size of the estate, needs of the applicants, nearness in kinship to the decease.

    Facts. George Lambeff executed a will that disposed property to the defendants, Nicholas and Christopher Lambeff, his two sons from his de facto second marriage to Barbara Lambeff. He did not make any testamentary dispositions to the plaintiff. The deceased abandoned the plaintiff at ten years old and did not support her financially. The plaintiff sought provision from her father’s estate under the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act of 1972. Under the act, a person domiciled in State that would be entitled to a claim of benefit under the act and receive a provision from a deceased’s estate the Court thinks fit for the maintenance, education or advancement of the person entitled if that person was left without adequate provision for his proper maintenance, education or advancement in life. The Court had the power to refuse to make the order in favor of any person such a person’s character or conduct way such as to disentitled him from the benefit of the Act. At the time of the
    deceased’s death, the defendants had little assets and families to support. The deceased’s estate was not large. The plaintiff attempted to make re-establish contact with her father seven years after he abandoned her, but he never responded to her letters that were written at about five yearly intervals. The plaintiff suspected the lack of response was due to the animosity he harbored towards her mother and the influence his current wife had over him.

    Issue. Whether the plaintiff was left without proper advancement under a statute that entitled her to a provision from her father’s estate if he did not provide for her in his will and she would not inherit through intestacy.

    Held. Yes. The plaintiff was left without proper advancement and should receive $20,000 from her father’s estate, even though she had done rather well in life. It is significant that the plaintiff would have done better in life if she would have had the proper support. She was abandoned at the age of 10 without any support from her father after that time. The plaintiff did not commit any acts to disinherit herself. In determining whether to grant an award under the statute, the court must also place itself in the position of the testator and consider that the deceased was wise and just instead of foolish and fond.

    Discussion. Because the evidence showed that the deceased did not provide for his daughter for half of her childhood, the court believed that she was entitled to support, even though she did not necessarily need the support. It is enough that her life would have been better and a father is responsible for helping his child to succeed in life.


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