Will disputes often bring out the worst in people. It's usually because there's a history of deep-seated issues in the family, whether it be between family members or involving the deceased.
In this particular Will dispute, two brothers from Queensland took things to a rarely seen level, which unfortunately led them to be charged by the police for criminal damage.
Their mother Lois lived in a country Victorian town with their sister.
Lois died, leaving a very modest estate mainly comprised of her small, aging house (expected to sell for around $100,000). Their sister was appointed executor.
However, the brothers were unhappy with what their sister was entitled to receive from the deceased estate and, the Court heard, were determined that their sister did not receive a cent.
The Court heard that they drove down from Queensland and, the day before the house was to go to auction, it's alleged they set about destroying the house with a hired excavator.
Before embarking on the “tirade of destruction”, they allegedly texted a photo of themselves to their sister with the excavator announcing “the renovations have begun”.
In the phone camera footage taken by one of them, there was tomfoolery and laughs aplenty. One brother was filmed yelling “charge!” with his hand defiantly pointing forward as his excavator crawled forward slowly before breaking a window. There was digging in the yard “looking for buried treasure”. A large water tank was rolled out of the property and through the streets of the country town.
Foundations were destroyed, walls were ripped down, and windows were smashed. The house was sold for $7,500.
It's alleged that when the police caught up with them that day, they said that they “had to make sure them (sic) renovations were right before tomorrow….we are both tradesmen but we're ***** rough” and later that day posted a selfie of them from the MCG with the caption “few beers at the footy after a hard days renovating”.
Victorian police charged the brothers for damaging property and theft, to which they both plead guilty. It appears they'll receive substantial fines.
It might have seemed like a good idea at the time. The Judge noted that the brothers' “entirely irrational response” to try and prevent their sister from receiving $30,000 in the house's sale meant they'd lose a combined $60,000 from the deceased estate. It has also left them with possible jail time, or most likely large fines, not to mention the possibility of further civil action from their sister.
One can never judge a client who has lived with intense levels of hatred or resentment for decades towards another family member or the deceased. Often it has come about due to some unthinkable acts from the past.
However, actions based on retribution or revenge will rarely end positively, particularly in a deceased estate dispute
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.