True Stories

Mail Bag - Your Stories

On 14/10/20114 , Louise of Victoria wrote:

My mother passed away on January the 13th this year aged 90.  My younger brother and I lost our father to cancer when
we were teenagers (we are now aged 52 and 49)  and after this my mum never really recovered from his death.  
She suffered from life long depression and we cared for her and made sure she was safe for most of her life after that.  
When she was 85 I moved in permanently with her to care for her full time (with my husband and young daughter)as 
she had always been frightened of going into aged care so we kept her out of it.   

My mother had a previous marriage before meeting our father which was brief as he left her for another woman
and mum was left holding the baby (literally) Being the 1940's there was no child care and although she tried
to care for him at one years old she had to put him in an adoption agency.  He was adopted out around 2 and half years
old and was raised by his own legal parents.  

He is 67 now. Mum divorced his father and met my father shortly after and married him.  
When mum was in her 70's and he in his 50's they reconnected and kept up a friendship which consisted of 
 some meetings, cards and letters and phone calls.  My brother met him but did not like him so had no relationship with
him.  I met him also and kept up a relationship with him for mum's sake.  We always accepted him and made him 
welcome in the family and always encouraged mum to keep up a relationship with him.  It was at best just a friendship 
though.  Mum never increased her wealth at all after our father passed away and so she felt her obligation was always 
to myself and my brother.  Mum said she had discussed this with him and so he was always aware of mum's intention.  
He had his own parents who were his legal parents.  Upon the death of my mother (not even 12 hours after actually) 
he asked to see mum's will and told my brother and I (who were the executors of mum's will) he was not happy with 
the small legacy she left him.  He told us what he wanted instead and things turned sour after that as he was being 
very greedy.  

We ultimately offered him a fair sum which was the only money left in mum's estate besides the house.  
Mum just had a home made will and left the house to myself and my brother with myself having the option to buy the
house and pay my brother out as we were living in the house and had our life here now.  This is what mum wanted.  
He rejected our offer and commenced litigation.  

We agreed with our solicitor summary dismissal although risky was the right thing to do in our case as his claim was 
based on little and the merits of our case alone should have gone in our favour.  The judge disagreed and dismissed our 
case instead.  She noted that his financial situation was not needy as he had stated and that his facts could perhaps have 
been inflated  but it would  go to a full trial to see the evidence on both sides.  The judge was told that my mother's 
estate was small  and to continue with litigation would mean selling my mothers home and make myself and my family homeless.  It did not matter. If we had taken it to full trial the likelihood would be that we would have won but 
would we have??  The cost would not make it a win at all and the likelihood would have been that we still may have 
had to pay his solicitors fee as well.  We could not afford to go any further so settled instead.  

It cost us over $120,00.00 all up with solicitors costs and settlement payment.  My mothers estate was less than 
$500,000.00 and $450,000.00 of that was her home.  My brother and I had to foot the bill so we could keep the house.  

How can the law allow this to happen.  The law is so unfair.  We had no say in any of it.  We just got stuck on this roller 
 coaster ride we could not get off because of the law.  We had to pay for everything.  Our solicitors fees and his solicitors 
fees.  The sad thing is after solicitors fees we worked it out that he would not have ended up with much more than our 
initial offer to him.   My father worked hard all his life and to see his and mum's life saving go up in smoke in less 
than a few months was so sad.  The law needs to change.  It is simply not right.  

I don't know if you can put this story on your site but I thought you would be interested to read it.  I worry about the 
implications of our case.  That adopted out children who have their own legal parents can still contest their biological 
parents will when they have only had a friendship later in life is scary.  Mum had no moral obligation to him.  
He was a grown man with his own parents and his own grown up family.  He told so many lies in his affidavits and 
made out their relationship was far more than what it was.  We just told the truth and got nowhere.  

I just don't understand at all.  

Regards Louise.



-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On 25/12/20113 , Craig of Victoria wrote:

Dear Greg,

I have an update on the Part IV claim affecting my partner's family.

As executors, they were being sued by their father's widow: she is a Chinese national and resident who married this 82 year old in 
complete secrecy (from his daughters) while on a short tourist visit.
The marriage consisted of 7-10 social outings over a 9 week period (no cohabitation, etc.), then she returned to China.
 They became estranged almost immediately and there were no further communications for more than 2 years, during which time the old man died.
The Vict. Supreme Court Probate Office absolutely insisted that the spouse be notified. But we had no contact details. We hired a private investigator and after many months we managed to track her down. When informed of the death, the widow snapped into action. She hired a Melbourne solicitor and initiated a Part IV lawsuit for provision. She also slapped on a property caveat, completely freezing out the daughters from any legal access to this property. She was after the lot. Later, she dropped her claim to 50% of the Estate.

Our legal team, including a top barrister, advised us that the widow would almost certainly lose the court case and would be provided with nothing, even though she was the legal spouse at the time of death.
We had exposed numerous false statements by this woman, in documents including her affidavit. So we were braced and ready for this trial, which would have rewritten the text books a bit.

In July 2014, the compulsory mediation session was held. Amazingly, the widow was actually present! Nobody had ever met her before or spoken with her. She had managed to get another tourist visa to come to Melbourne in pursuit of "her" money.
After 4 hours of negotiations, during which our side stood firm - "Zero dollars" - and the widow grovelled for money in a very unseemly fashion, we decided that we had achieved enough of a moral victory to cut a deal: "$10,000 and go away!"
Unfortunately, our own legal costs plus considerable investigation costs (e.g. private investigator, translators) added up to $125,000.

The Estate is worth more than $800,000. So, really, we got off lightly, given the initially grave situation: the deceased was very nearly deemed intestate.

You can use this story on your website. It's a pity it didn't go to trial, as you could have linked to the webpage of the judge's ruling.
The 'take home message' in this particular case is: marriage can have serious Estate implications; and a non-genuine marriage to a foreigner is very risky, particularly when the Australian party is elderly, mentally unsound, or terminally ill.

Thanks very much for your website. You gave me some good info and also a bit of a morale boost last December when you emailed me.

All the best,
Craig.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


On 25/12/20113 , PF of NSW wrote:

Dear Greg

My husband of 20 years left myself and our boys to marry a wealthy women.  They made Wills  together before their marriage leaving their estates to their own children.
They were together for less than 2 years when he died of cancer.   Very sad and emotional times.
His wife  applied for Family Provision.  Today we finally got payment from the Estate.    We settled via barristers and a judge ( not a contested hearing in court as that would have cost an extra $100K )   We payed all her costs, $35,000   The  Superannuation  people gave her my Xs money because they said she was his wife.  Superannuation is not part of ones estate.  However if it is not contested it would have gone to the boys.  Made no difference that in his Will he wanted his money to go to his boys or that fact his wife was a multi millionaire.
It also seems to me,  it's the greedy, bully,  and self centred who are just the person who  feel a sense of entitlement  to contest a Will.  So many people are fighting these people who have very little conscious or normal ethics.  And then there are the lawyers who may be similar, who will feed off the enormous costs they charge.
Also the law and Government bodies have not caught up with the whole Estate area.  There a no watch dogs.   My xs' father in law was the executor and skimmed $13,000 just to do probate.  And my lawyer said there was nothing I could do about it.
So there is this Family provision law and Estates waiting in the wings with court cases etc. and no procedures and rules to protect it.
I have just been granted to be an Administrator for my mother who has dementia, and the Administrator Board require me to be very accountable for every cent.  I mentioned this to my lawyer and she said there is nothing like that for estates being contested.
I think the family provision law may be useful to some, however,  it really makes Wills  very weak.  To take my x's wife to court was too much of  a gamble.  To attack the Will cost her not a cent.    She has even re partnered.      It has been very stressful, and i have suffered health wise.  Even though I had a big time Sydney city lawyer, I felt she the xs' wife was calling the shots.  We are hit with a double whammy.  The wishes of the deceased is torn apart and contested by a self righteous greedy bully.   And their greed is rewarded because to go to court holds the gamble of loosing a huge junk of the Estate.  There is a huge injustice that gets under your skin.  

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On 29/06/2010 6:47 PM, Jenny wrote:

In response to your posting, I wholeheartedly agree.

In fact, your fictional scenario is the exact situation I am in at present in assisting my parents with structuring their will. They have “child 2” and want to only leave a small sum. Obviously this is not going to work should they choose to contest it when the time comes.

The law needs to be changed.

How on earth can a 53 year old married woman with 3 adult children need “providing for” when they have deliberately absolved themselves from the family for 20+ years? Your example could not have been any better depicted for me.

Jenny

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


On 10/10/2010 6:47 PM, Anonymous wrote:

Dear Greg

 Here is my story.
 
When my father died in mid 2007, I had hoped my share of his small estate, ca $190K, would make a large difference to my life. I only $40K p.a and live in rental accommodation, with little to no prospect of ever owning a home of my own.  Essentially, when Dad died, I asked that my sister's social worker, who had been engaged in supporting my sister in battling drug addiction, ensure her financial safety in the event that she was paid a large lump sum amount. This was because of the nature of the company she kept and my fears that family and fair-weather friends would exploit her good nature.

 I was surprised when my sister's administrators - "professionals" I asked be appointed, though this firm was selected by VCAT without consulting my family - made a claim for a larger than half share of Dad's estate.
 
It has now been well over 3 years and neither mt sister nor I have received anything, her own requests to her administrators that the estate be divided equally has been ignored, and many thousands of dollars have been spent on lawyers out of his small estate because of the FPA.
 
 With the solid foundation provided to them by the FPA, the administrators for my sister have ignoring the advice of professionals that have said that my sister's condition has been blown out of proportion. They choose to turn a blind eye and flout the FPA, regardless of how applicable it really is to this specific situation.

I would understand that, were she any less capable than I, she might need a greater sum - but she's a capable 25 year old with a mind of her own and a voice that her representatives have chosen to blatantly ignore; ignore along with any evidence that negates their argument for her receiving the lion's share.

Suffice to say that they will receive a percentage of any money paid to her. This is itself is motivation enough for them to press on and abuse the outdated and unfair law that is the Family Provision Act.
 I live in Victoria and will be contacting my MP to bring greater attention to this abuse of a law the government is too complacent to address and do away with.

Name withheld - Victoria


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


On 10/11/2010 4:47 PM, Anonymous wrote:


In 2008 when my father died in NSW, he left 4 children two men and two women in there 40's and 50's. Both the women had refused contact with him for over 20 years because in there words “it wasn't worth the hassle”. This caused my father a great deal of pain and suffering.
In his will he left most of his estate to his two sons as they both had families to support and had provided him with support and love over the years. To the daughters he left only a token amount as they had no dependants, were financial independent and had abandoned him.
We were advised that as the daughters had mortgages ( as do the sons), and the court likes to pay mortgages the court would likely pay there mortgages from the sons inheritance.
Also as they were women they are considered by the court to require more assistance then men.
We were also were told that if we went to court and won the estate would still have to pay an additional $90,000 for two days in the NSW Supreme Court. In other words even if you win you loose. So we paid them off.
So in the end
Sister 1 got about % 20 of the estate instead of % 0.1
Sister 2 got about % 5 of the estate instead of % 0.1
The Lawyers got % 20 of the estate.
The sons are due % 26 each of the estate instead of % 50.

Actually after almost 3 years the sons haven't received anything due to lawyers and executors. But that's a whole other story.

I don't think this is what the authors of this law intended.


Name withheld - NSW

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On 3/3/2010 12:13 AM, Anonymous wrote:



The FPA (NSW) has caused me immense stress and hardship (financially and emotionally)!

Background:

My father passed away in 2008. His will was through the NSW public trustee, and they are also the Executors.My parents (both dead) came to Australia in 1976. They both worked extremely hard, more than one or two jobs at a time to give myself and my brother a good life. Everything we have today is due to their hard work and self-less – ness. IT’s a textbook story of wanting better for your family and hoping to give your children a great future.

My brother has spent the last close to 15 years of his life, being estranged from myself and my late father. Part of those 15 years he also spent trying his best to get the family home away from my late father. There is a history of this, we (my late father and I) just learnt to live with it whilst my father was alive, and put it to one side.

 

My father’s will left my brother a substantial amount of cash and me a life interest in the family home. 

I spent the last nearly 7 years living in that family home, it is my home. It is where I was the main carer of my dead father, it is where I spent alot of time looking after my dad without any help, whatsoever from my brother. Even though I repeatedly asked him for help on many many occasions, when my dad was in ICU and very sick.

Now thanks to the FPA, my brother is able to challenge for the house, that he has always wanted and have me thrown out of my home as a result.

So what my brother tried to do for nearly 15 years, and failed to do so he can do so 

now, through the courts and with lawyers and barristers due to this FPA ACT.

 

What is most appalling is 

that we write our wills, we go through a huge process of trying to be fair, and make sure our loved ones 

are looked after.. after we depart this earth; but after we are gone our wishes are over-looked by a 

heartless system and over-looked to serve 

in most cases gold diggers who can launch a challenge to 

our wills.

 

In my case, I am faced with 2 

battles: the first 

against the plaintiff in which if I lose I lose my home

And the second battle: against the Executors themselves, ie: TAG (Trusty and Guardian of NSW) as they 

have done basically zero to defend my father’s will.

 

Then the question is:

 

Why bother doing a will in the first place?

And why is there such an act as the FPA

that allows people to pursue their own selfish greed based agendas to the winning end?

 

And of course,

there will always be lawyers/barristers who will gladly work in this area, as they know that at the end of

the day, they will always be paid.

The defendant/beneficiary? Well they go through hell and high tide,

tread water, loose sleep, oh and of course, they are still grieving the loss of that loved one at the same

time.

This is something that you cant really do, and find closure as you are hourly, daily reminded of their

missing from your life due to legal challenges to their wishes.

The courts and the legal system BOTH need to recognise the role of ‘grief’ here. Which they,  in my 

experience they do not.

 

As I write, this matter is set to go to a hearing in a month. The plaintiff has 

lodged 5 affidavits, all filled with venomous lies and accusations aimed directly at me. The TAG have 

managed only ONE affidavit from myself, despite my repeated requests to do more.

I can only hope and pray that some- how justice prevails and the plaintiff will be defeated.


Name withheld - NSW