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Ask Deborah Awyzio Your Own Question
Deborah Awyzio
Deborah Awyzio, Solicitor
Category: Australia Law
Satisfied Customers: 863
Experience:  Bachelor of Laws (QUT), BIT (QUT), Family Law Accredited Specialist, over 12 years experience
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My father died 4 years ago, after his death my mother had

Customer Question

my father died 4 years ago, after his death my mother had myself and my sister sign a document. I didn't ask what the document was about, though my mother told my sister it was just to say that we wouldn't contest the will. Is this normal? I ask because my dads wealthy cousin died recently (my father wasn't wealthy) and left my father a share of his estate which went straight to my mother. Is it possible that the document i signed was to hand over next of kin? My mother wont tell me or my sister how much she received from my fathers cousin.

Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Australia Law
Expert:  James D. Ford replied 2 years ago.
It is not normal to be asked to sign any document without first obtaining legal advice.
You should be able to request a copy (in fact you should have been given a copy for your records) of what you have signed, so you can understand your legal rights.
Yes, documents do exist whereby potential beneficiaries of a Will, can agree to waive any benefit under a Will, and to waive their rights to challenge the terms of the Will (via what is known as a Family Provision Application).
I am not aware of any document whereby you can sign away your status as next of kin. I would need to see the document you have signed before I could comment any further.
I can say that I am confused by the facts, as you have described.. regarding your dad's wealthy cousin. If a Will leaves something to someone who has already passed away.. generally the gift fails, and is of no effect.
Therefore, it would not seem possible for your dad's wealthy cousin to leave your dad anything... as the gift would have failed.
I can only assume that the Will of your dad's wealthy cousin stated .. i leave X to your dad, and in the event he does not survive me by 30 days, to your dad's wife...
You might be entitled to a copy of your dad's wealthy cousins Will? do you know if the Will went to probate.. if it is a large estate, then generally it would go to Probate, and the Will will be on the public record. You can apply to the Court for a copy.
Please advise where you are located in Australia... and if your dad's wealthy cousin lived in the same state or territory, or somewhere else.. and I can be more specific about the steps you might be able to take.
Kind regards,