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QLD What are Beneficiary's Rights?

Discussion in 'Wills and Estate Planning Law Forum' started by Jenny P, 4 July 2016.

  1. Jenny P

    Jenny P Active Member

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    My cousin's stepfather died last year in QLD. His only sister (NZ) is the executor of will and main beneficiary. She gets 50%, her only daughter (also in NZ) 25% and my cousin receives 25%. It is claimed that my cousin's stepfather's deceased estate is just one QLD bank account worth $84,000.

    Knowing family history, we were suspicious of NZ assets for which the stepfather and his sister inherited a number of investment properties from deceased parents. The executor and solicitor have refused to provide the 'assets and liabilities' at death for the NZ parent estates. I obtained both the parents probated wills from NZ to assist our investigation. However, just to divert our suspicions and with help from a private lawyer, the executor provided a 'deed of family arrangement' for a NZ$500,000 property which she and my cousin's stepfather are 50/50 tenants in common.

    The deed was a settlement for the property and signed in 2012, a couple of months after my cousin's stepfather kicked her out of the home they shared for 25 years. This he did not do alone and was influenced by his sister in NZ as per further investigations. The stepfather was an alcoholic and with terminal cancer and my cousin had chronic mental health issues which were worse since her biological mother died in 2008. She and her stepfather were dependent on each other for all rental and household expenses. Through the stepfather's actions, my cousin was made homeless, lost all her possessions, became traumatised and suicidal and was displaced 100kms away from stepfather and under mental health services.

    My family didn't know what happened to her until after she contacted me 2 weeks after her stepfather died. The 'sister' excluded her from knowing he died and the funeral and also tried to 'lose' her to the estate lawyer.

    Anyway, in short, the family deed stated that her stepfather didn't want the property. The sister who was the trustee through the family deed also changed the property to joint tenancy and then she bought her brothers share to which was then transferred and sold into a trust account in the sister's only daughter's name. In other words, the daughter has received the benefits of an investment property getting continuous rental income.

    My cousin is living in poverty and was excluded. Parent's wills had clause 'child/children'. The deed of variation to which this was, was signed by my cousin's stepfather, his sister the trustee/executor and her daughter. Wasn't my cousin a contingent beneficiary with an 'equitable propriety interest' in the property to which any changes to the original trust deed such as that as the 'deed of family arrangement' she should have been included.

    Can we bring the 'trustee/executor/'the sister' to question by making application to the court under section 8/ Trust Act QLD (= section 68/Trust Act NZ) for her actions, omissions, etc. as well as requesting the 'trust account' financial documents, that my cousin is entitled in view of her beneficial rights? Such as original 'trust deed', financial accounts of the trust, 'assets and liabilities at death' for both parents. Please help!

    We also suspect other properties in NZ under trust arrangements that the stepfather was a beneficiary to and believe that the 'existence' of my cousin being the 'stepdaughter' has been withheld from any of the New Zealand lawyers as in my cousin's stepfather's ' will' there is no kinship status noted. She is not identified as 'my stepdaughter' . She also has a different surname to her stepfather. As far as anyone reading the will, my cousin could be the 'cleaning lady'. So no solicitor would know she is family, unless the 'sister' advised them as such. She already sent my cousin an email soon after her stepfather's death claiming she didn't know who she was. That prompted further suspicions...that was for sure.

    I appreciate any help regarding the trust act in relation to a 'beneficiary's right to review the trustee's decisions".
     
  2. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

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    Hi Jenny P,

    This sounds like a very complicated matter, and your query being a request for help based on all the circumstances is really to complex to address and beyond the scope of this forum.

    You may be able to bring the sister to question under relevant sections of the Trust act or inherent jurisdiction of the court to supervise testamentary matters, however you really need to seek legal advice as it will be a tough process which requires legal skill and knowledge to bring the appropriate proceedings, in the right jurisdiction, conduct the right investigations and obtain the right evidence.
     

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