Contesting a Will as a ‘Partner’ and claiming Centrelink also – Be Aware!

On 17 October 2018, a great-grandmother in Geelong, Victoria, Noel Newling, was sentenced to two years and 10 months jail for concealing her relationship with a wealthy share trader for more than 20 years, whilst claiming a single pension.

The woman was forced to concede her relationship status in a bid to contest her partner’s Will who died in 2016 with an estate worth in the order of $4 million. A judgment has not yet been handed down by the Supreme Court of Victoria in respect of this case.

The Human Services Minister, Michael Keenan has advised that irrespective of a person’s background or age, there will be consequences.

Many people who contest a will are those who claim they were in some form of domestic or de-facto relationship with the deceased person at the time of that person’s death. Often, however, such claimants have been claiming Centrelink pensions for many years as a ‘single’ person. Similarly, the deceased person may have also been claiming a ‘single’ pension during his or her lifetime.

Therefore, bringing a claim for further provision from an estate should be carefully considered in circumstances where such a fraud has been committed. Not only could it result in monies being repaid to the government by the claimant but also that person being jailed, but also, monies could become repayable by the deceased person’s estate to Centrelink. Nobody wins!