When preparing a will, a lawyer owes a duty of care to the testator to advise them on the possibility of a family provision claim. However, as Badenach v Calvert demonstrates, this duty does not impose any obligation upon the lawyer to advise the testator of the steps which can be taken to mitigate the possibility of a family provision claim.
In NSW, under the Succession Act and pursuant to Practice Note SC Eq 7 – Family Provision, unless the court orders otherwise, all family provision claims must go through mediation before the matter can proceed to a final hearing.
It is common for testators to transfer property or assets to their intended beneficiaries prior to their death, in an effort to avoid any potential challenges to their will. The logic being that an applicant will be unable to challenge the will where the estate has no real value. However, in NSW transferring your assets before your death will not necessarily prevent a family provision claim from being made against your estate and in particular circumstances the court may make a Notional Estate Order.