Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Federal Magistrates Court case: did the wife receive her inheritance?

The Federal Magistrates Court in a recent case, Cairns and Cairns, had to consider the question of whether or not the wife had renounced her interest in her grandfather's estate.

Under the terms of the estate, the wife was to receive $20,000 and she and her sister were to receive 1/2 each of two investment properties after both of them had turned 40.

The wife claimed that the Rule in Saunders v. Vautier applied. This rule meant in effect that once the wife and her sister turned 18, they could together seek the payment over of the trust, or for that matter to renounce their entitlement under the trust.

The amount was significant. When the investment properties were sold in 1992, the sale proceeds were in excess of $600,000.

Federal Magistrate Housego found that the wife, who had not turned 40, had not renounced her interest in her grandfather's estate, and therefore her interest was that of a financial resource, which needed to be taken into account in the property settlement.

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