Making Money Out of Ripping Families Apart

Inviting advertisements appear in The Sunday Telegraph on the 26th December 2010 reading, “Been unfairly left out of a will?”, “Have you been left out of a Will… or named in a Will but treated unfairly?”

Why are these appearing? Only two reasons:

Money for somebody

The Will was not prepared properly in the first place

Let’s go back in time.

The Sunday Mail in Brisbane reports on 22/08/10 on the kind acts of the late mining mogul Mr Ken Talbot, leaving nearly a third of his fortune to a charity.

According to this article, 70% of the estate was to be shared among his widow and four children. That is 70% of an estate anticipated to be worth around $1 billion. The balance (again according to the paper) was to go to charity.You don’t have to be a mathematical genius to work out that this is quite an amount of money on top of the other benefits Mr Talbot had organised to be left to his family.

Fast forward now to the Brisbane Courier Mail on the 19-20th March 2011. The article reports “A family battle for cash has erupted over the will of mining billionaire Ken Talbot with claims his two youngest children weren’t adequately provided for, Supreme Court documents have revealed.”

Apparently the grandfather of two of Mr Talbot’s children is taking legal action on their behalf after they inherited a smaller share than their older half brother and sister. By the way Mr Talbot also went to the trouble of including in his will a document, part of which reads “I sincerely ask that all beneficiaries are sensible and do not argue… (and) demonstrate some give and take”.

There are a number of issues here that need to become part of your thought processes about you or your family’s will and estate planning. If Mr Talbot looking down over his family right now, what is he thinking? Let’s have a crack: “Did my associated professionals, ones I was paying good money to, to help with my affairs let me down with the way this was set up? Who will be
the real winner out of this in the end?

Surely the family doesn’t want to suffer more, hasn’t my family suffered with my departure? What about my last wishes of asking my beneficiaries not to argue and to give and take. Don’t they care about what I wanted?”

In summary, don’t take this part of your world for granted. As was pointed out earlier in this article, there are two problems here: Money for somebody – There is a cancerous money sucking business out there, making money out of ripping families apart.

And secondly, the Will was not prepared properly in the first place – Imagine for a minute the “smart people” who were around Mr Talbot in advising him about his affairs and possible outcomes. Is it possible they weren’t paying real attention and were just keen to invoice him for their services to him?

If you have questions or would like to contact me to update your estate planning or will, you can contact me here.

Invest Your Time and Cross-Check Your Will

At frantic pace the single divorced Mum attacks her daily tasks. A victim of a broken relationship, a mortgage to maintain, car payments, food to provide, bills, power, telephone and a good education for her daughter. A daughter that has a rare condition that will ensure she loses total sight early in her womanhood. A blindness that is irreversible.

The Mum produces a safety net for her daughter with her untiring efforts. Oh how she yearns for a weekend away to walk her dogs on the beach or curl up to an enjoyable novel while resting by the pool catching up on some sun rays. Oh the dream. But she is unstoppable, making ends meet, providing food and clothes, transporting her daughter so she can enjoy the many sights of life before her sentence of permanent darkness closes in.

Safety, safety, I must make sure she is safe, while I am here and when I am not. Got to make that happen no matter what, she constantly thinks.

She hopes her associated professionals are doing the right thing to assist her with her goal. Medical, financial, mechanical, trades, educators, legal, mentors, friends, relatives and suppliers that come in and out of her fractured and fragile world. She hears stories good and bad and all the time she shares the same passion and vision of all parents.

She keeps her surrounding suppliers on their toes because a safe environment is all she wants- she conducts annual reviews on all those that she uses. Her phone, her power, the mortgage, insurers, financial people, medical, all those charged with helping her, but ultimately knowing she is responsible for any adverse outcomes.

In one of her audits she stumbles upon research conducted and revealed by the Salvation Army. Facts revealing 5.7m people in Australia have had a dispute with a will, or know someone that has. She begins to think why would that be? Is it communication? Is it because things aren’t done correctly? She subtracts the children and those that may not have a will and a shudder comes over her at this amazing number. Why? Why? How could this really be? She puts pen to paper, and comes up with questions, lots of questions about the safety of her child and the planning she had done. Is mine ok? does it provide the safety net I want when its needed? What if the people I have appointed became unfit? What if my girl ends up like me a single Mum? Can she be taken advantage of? How do I know, how can I be sure? How do I really know? What back up does she have, Is it right? Where does one find out? How do I check that my associated professional has got it right? What if my daughter produces a child and inherits the same genetic disease and she was to pass on before the job is done for her child? What will be the result? How do I put a proper and safe wall around my affairs?

Like the pilot on an aircraft who orders his crew to “cross-check” before take off, and before landing, the message is clear- Invest the time and “cross –check” your Will and Estate Planning.

If you have questions or would like to contact me to update your estate planning or will, you can contact me here.

Widow Loses Home After Will Challenge

“The appellant made application pursuant to s 41 of the Succession Act 1981 (Qld), contending that adequate provision for her proper maintenance had not been made in the Will, and effectively claiming for an order for provision by way of receipt of the entire residuary estate”

An appellant, is legal talk for “the party that files an appeal”

In this case, Mr x passed away three and half years after Mrs x (Mr x’s second wife) started nursing him through ill health. So why did she contest his will? She felt she wasn’t properly provided for.

Mr x left the will to be divided equally between Mrs x and his three boys from his first marriage whom he abandoned when they were very young. He rekindled a relationship somewhat with his now adult sons, in his last few years.

The scene at the court looked like this. Three judges, four barristers, two lawyers and their support staff. Yes nine legal professionals involved, and their support staff over an estate worth a touch under $500,000. Not a massive estate in today’s terms, however with so many people involved, the legal fees mounted.

In the end, Mrs x lost and $180,000 in legal fees were awarded against her. She had to sell the house; pay the legal’s, given the sons their money and now doesn’t have a home. She still owes around $62,000. The question is this “Was this Mr X’s real intention? – to have her thrown out, I don’t think so. Maybe a better solution could have been to have Mrs x stay in the home till she passed on, and then let the three boys divide it up then.

Interestingly in this case it was decided by the court and I quote:

“Given the short duration of this marriage, the fact that the appellant (legal talk for the will challenger) had made no real contribution to the estate (either financial or by way of support in building up the estate), and the terms of the arrangement between the appellant and the deceased, this could not be regarded as a relationship to which the “broad general rule” could be said to apply”

In short ladies and gentlemen, in this case the court didn’t give much credence to the fact that Mrs x nursed hubby for the last three and a half years of his life.

So, the idea is to have your will and estate planning prepared properly by trained specialists or accredited specialists, so you’re prepared against any potential will challenge.

If you have questions you can contact me here.