The saddest types of legal battles are those which involve our
People often associate a family dispute with divorce, dividing
up the property or working out where the children will live after
separation but I've noticed another type of matter emerging
more often in recent years.
Sadly I am seeing an increase in disputes between family members
which occur as a result of disputes over money. People think that
'blood is thicker than water', that their family members
can be trusted without question and that there is no need to
document their agreements.
Here are some recent examples which could have been avoided by
family members properly documenting their agreements:
An elderly couple allow their daughter and her defacto to live
in a property that they own, and build an extension on the
property. The elderly couple need to sell the property to fund a
move into a retirement village. The daughter and defacto do not
have sufficient funds to purchase the home and want to be
reimbursed for the money they have spent on the property. The
daughter and defacto refuse to leave the property.
Parents loan a sum of money to one of their children for a
business venture. The parents need the money to be repaid and ask
for it to be returned and the child refuses to repay it saying that
it was a gift because the parent had given gifts to their other
A mother is in business with her daughter. The daughter and the
mother incur debts while running the business. The business
agreement is not in writing. The daughter dies and the son-in-law,
who is administering the estate of the daughter, disputes that some
of the debts are the responsibility of his late wife.
A couple ask an uncle to do building works with no written
agreement. A dispute arises about the cost of the works.
Two cousins run a business together. There is no agreement in
writing. They both have access to the business accounts and draw on
the bank accounts whenever either of them needs money. A dispute
arises as to the amount of money that one cousin has drawn out. The
cousin who has drawn out more money says that he is entitled to as
he has worked more hours than the other cousin.
And the list goes on...
Blood may be thicker than water, but there is still a need to
document your agreements with family members. The cases above could
have been avoided or been less costly if the family members had
communicated better and put documents in place rather than suing a
family member. Rather than showing a lack of trust in your loved
ones, documenting your wishes may protect your relationships, while
maintaining your emotional and financial security.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Sect.117 can deal with false statements and knowingly making false allegations of violence could justify a costs order.
Some comments from our readers… “The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable” “I often find critical information not available elsewhere” “As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).