Grandchildren seek finalisation of estate accounts

Published 19 May 2015

The estate accounts of a man who died more than three decades ago are on the road to being finalised, following a hearing in the Supreme Court of New South Wales. Six grandchildren are hoping the their contesting wills lawyer will ensure the executor can complete the accounts that arose while the testator’s widow was still alive.

The testator passed away in 1982 and was survived by his wife, son and daughter. His six grandchildren were also beneficiaries in his last remaining will, which was dated just a few weeks before he died.

A property in Pymble was given to the man’s widow, with the income from the estate used to pay for rates, taxes and any maintenance repairs that were needed. The executor was given the option to sell the home, but only on the basis that alternative accommodation was found for the widow.

The property was sold in 1987 for $171,000 and the family went on to buy a unit for the man’s widow on the north coast of New South Wales. There was around a $51,000 difference between the sale of the home and the purchase of the new property, with $15,785.96 of it remaining in the estate. Shares in Lend Lease Corporation also formed part of the estate.

A further $35,000 was used for the woman’s needs and expenses, leaving approximately $20,000 to be divided between the beneficiaries.

The son of the deceased used the remaining capital from the estate to fund its outgoings. This began in 1987 and came to an end in 2000, during which time he claimed this was a legitimate action designed to support his mother.

However, by 1994 the man informed his sister that all the capital that had been invested on the estate’s behalf had been fully expended. This led him to request her help with payments on the new property that had been purchased for their mother.

By October 2008, the son had moved into his mother’s home, as she had been admitted to a secure dementia unit. He stated that this had been at her request, and he was found not to have paid rent to the estate until his mother’s death in September 2012.

The focus of this latest court case has been the disputed $20,000 and how the son had received the money in breach of trust. However, because a life estate was held under the terms of the woman’s will, the son isn’t liable for his failure to rent out her property before her death.

The six grandchildren will now be credited with the $33,906.86 they paid on the estate’s behalf from 2003 to 2009. The son is liable to pay the plaintiffs’ profits for the 62 weeks between 3 September 2012 and 13 November 2013, when the property was finally vacated.

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