What size of gift is large enough to satisfy the court?

  • There is no fixed sum – the court will always consider whether the gift falls into the range of adequate gifts.
  • Each case will depend on facts like the beneficiary’s financial need and the testator’s legitimate concerns.

In the case of Nightingale v. Hepting, the testator left 55% of his estate to his only son, and 40% to a close friend.  The son contested the will, claiming that his share was not enough.  He said that the testator had failed to live up to his moral obligations, considering that the son was committed to providing for his disabled son, the testator’s grandson.

The Judge decided that the gift was large enough.  He noted that the highest percentage of the testator’s estate awarded to claimants in similar cases was 50%.  The son had inherited other assets by right of survivorship, so his share of the testator’s assets was actually 67%.  The son was not markedly needy, and the estate was large enough to allow a significant legacy to the friend.

If you need to determine whether a gift in a will is adequate, we can help.  Contact us.

Read the case:  Nightingale v. Hepting