Justice to contest late mother’s estate

Published 24 Sep 2015

One of Queensland’s most highly regarded and experienced judges is heading to court. However, Justice John Byrne won’t be preceding over the case. Rather, he and his brother will be plaintiffs over the estate of their late mother who died in 2014, according to the Courier Mail.

Prior to her death, Neva Byrne of Palm Beach, had been preparing to change her will to allow the transfer of both shares and properties to her two sons. Unfortunately for Justice John Byrne and his brother, Robert Byrne, Ms Byrne died before the changes could be finalised and signed, thus the original will for her $17 million estate stood.

Case details

This version, written in 1995, bequeathed just a life interest of a Queensland property to Justice John Byrne while this brother would receive no inheritance. Instead, the bulk of the estate was left to a number of charities and educational facilities.

In fact, the will also stated that $5,000 a year should be set aside for her remaining cats and dogs. However, at the time of her death, Ms Byrne didn’t have any pets nor was connected to any of the organisations listed in her will.

Given all these facts, Justice John Byrne and Mr Byrne decided to contest the will, citing that they weren’t adequately provided for in the original estate allocation. Both men have families to support, and  believe that they have a good case to challenge so have registered the case in the Queensland Supreme Court.

Why were the brothers left out?

As with many contesting wills cases, family disputes or issues can influence a person’s decisions on how to settle his or her estate. In fact, this case is no different.

Both sons experienced mixed receptions to their wives and girlfriends in the 1980s and 1990s?, and it was during this time that Ms Byrne changed her will to reflect her feelings. This decision meant at the time, Justice John Byrne’s and Robert Byrne’s partners couldn’t access Ms Byrne’s estate after her death.

It is important to note that the 1995 will provided money to grandchildren with $200,000 split between three of Robert’s children.

Contesting a will

In the above case, Mrs Byrne was soon to sign a will that included sufficient provisions to both her sons. As such, this point should make it easier for them to contest the will successfully.

Of course, due to the complexity of these kinds of cases, it is important to talk to an expert estate lawyer if you have any questions regarding a will. For more information, contact our team today.

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