The Facts

Deceased leaves $6 million estate to nieces

G died on 13 August 2013 from a heart attack at the age of 65.

He had owned a pharmacy in Sydney and had no wife or children.

His closest relatives were his two nieces, C and A.

After her uncle died, C found a two-page document in a Bible on his bedside table. It was signed, dated, and looked to be an informal will.

The will appointed C as executor and divided G's $6 million estate equally between C and A.

Y challenges will on basis of secret relationship with deceased

Y, a man who was 30 years younger than G, claimed to have had a secret same-sex relationship with G for 14 years prior to G's death.

Y commenced proceedings in the Supreme Court of NSW to challenge the will.

These proceedings were complex and extended for several years.

Y made a number of claims, one of which was a family provision claim under the NSW Succession Act 2006.

The primary judge dismissed this claim on the basis that Y was not eligible to commence a claim for a family provision order.

Y appealed to the NSW Court of Appeal, and C defended the proceedings as the executor of G's will.

case a - The case for Y

case b - The case for C, the executor

  • I satisfy three categories of legal eligibility to make a claim against the will. First, I was living with G in a de facto relationship at the time of his death. Secondly, I was partly dependent on G and was a member of his household. Thirdly, I was living with G in a "close personal relationship" at the time of his death.
  • I had a secret romantic relationship with G, which took place exclusively at G's pharmacy, for a period of 14 years.
  • We met in 1999 and for the first two years spent about three or four days per week together, for about three to five hours on each occasion. By 2001, we commenced a sexual relationship, conducted entirely in secret and exclusively at the pharmacy, because G spent most of his life at the pharmacy.
  • We lived our secret life in the pharmacy's backroom dispensary. There we lived together and would cook and eat together, watch television together and have sex. I also helped G do the pharmacy books and stock the shelves.
  • Witnesses have confirmed that G routinely socialised at the pharmacy, and cooked, ate and slept there, and that I was a regular visitor to the pharmacy and would stay there until the early hours of the morning.
  • G also provided business advice to me with respect to purchasing a tyre business and he provided me with financial support to make the purchase. He also gave me the login details to his personal bank accounts, so that I could access money whenever I needed it, which I routinely did.
  • Since the facts show that I was living with G as a couple and that I was dependent on him, I am eligible to make a claim against his will, and the court must grant my appeal.
  • Y does not satisfy the criteria for eligibility to challenge my uncle's will.
  • Y and my uncle never had a romantic relationship, nor did they live together. There was no privacy at the pharmacy, so how exactly could a "secret" relationship take place for 14 years without anybody noticing?
  • My uncle never displayed any interest in sexual activities with other males. He had long-term sexual relationships with women, whom he spoke about regularly to me, my sister and to his friends.
  • Y and my uncle did not meet in 1999 as Y asserts. They met in 2007 through Y's wife at the time. Between 2007 and my uncle's death, Y and my uncle had a friendship or a commercial relationship, but nothing closer.
  • The funds that my uncle provided to Y were loans, not gifts. My uncle always intended that these loans would be repaid. My uncle had conversations with third parties where he indicated the payments were loans. Also, Y commenced a pattern of regular repayments, commencing shortly before my uncle's death.
  • Further, my uncle did not live at the pharmacy. He had a residence in Strathfield where he lived. He may have stayed at the pharmacy on occasion, but this only involved him putting his head on the desk for a few hours. There isn't even a bed or shower at the pharmacy.
  • Since the facts show that my uncle and Y were not living together and that Y was not dependent on him, the court must dismiss Y's appeal.

So, which case won?

Cast your judgment below to find out

Tierah Faulder
Will disputes
Stacks Law Firm

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