If you thought the family court was just about getting its clutches into mum and dad, think again. In this case, the Family Court looked at the dead father's Will.
Advisers and accountants in Estate Planning must also consider where the parent’s money goes.
Mrs Hall is a doctor and Mr Hall is a property developer. They have two children. Mr and Mrs Hall divorced. Mrs Hall sought spousal maintenance.
Mrs Hall’s financial circumstances included an "interest" in the estate of her late father, controlled by her brothers. How much interest did she have? Mrs Hall did not disclose how much the interest was for or provide a copy of her dad’s Will. Without that extra information, the judge made her ex-husband pay $10 833 per month.
Mr Hall appealed. Mr Hall was able to get his hands on the dead man’s “wishes” that
1) Mrs Hall receives from her family business a cash payment of $16.5 million if she divorces her husband, and,
2) Mrs Hall receives from the family business an annual payment of $150 K until the date of the above $16.5m payment.
Dead parent Will used in Family Court
There was clear evidence that Mrs Hall’s brothers as Executors would carry out their father’s “wish”. Mrs Hall argued that she did not know how much the interest was for, and that she hadn’t claimed it from her brothers even though her father died five years earlier. The court said this was irrelevant. The Family Court of course, is only interested in the means of Mrs Hall to support herself.
To date she has not yet apparently received the $16.5 million.
Nevertheless the court cancelled the maintenance that Mr Hall had to pay.
You must use experts to draft your Will. So much confusion can be caused by poor Estate Planning. The last time we saw such tomfoolery was when Robert Holmes a Court forgot to have a Will.
And as shown, having “wishes” put into the will doesn’t work. In this case, not only are the brothers not obligated to pay their sister but she still got punished for this “wish” in the Family Court.
Draft your will complete with capital protected trusts and Appointors here.
Case: Hall v Hall