In a Decision of the NSW Supreme Court handed down on 31 January 2013, a Judge has ordered a person who obtained a Grant of Probate of a Will, and then distributed the estate pursuant to the Grant of Probate, to reimburse the estate for the monies distributed.
The Law essentially provides an executor with protection from claims on him or her, if he or she makes due enquiry as to the existence of any claims on the estate (generally done by advertising in the local newspaper), then satisfies any claims on the estate and distributes the balance of the estate in accordance with the Will. In this recent case, the executor’s problem was that notwithstanding he received no notice of claim in response to his advertisement in the local newspaper, he disregarded a notice of a claim by a beneficiary under an earlier Will (to the effect that the later Will was invalid) that he had received prior to placing his advertisement. The executor proceeded to distribute the estate in accordance with the later Will.
The beneficiary of the earlier Will challenged this action successfully. The Grant of Probate of the later Will was overturned and replaced with a Grant of Probate of the earlier Will, and amongst other orders, the Judge ordered the Executor of the later Will to reimburse the Estate the monies distributed by him $732,133.76.