The estate dispute involves a $6 million dollar cattle property, our client Geoff and his 90 year old widowed mother. Months after the passing of her husband, our client’s mother Mrs Birch visited a local lawyer with her second son and Power of Attorney, Doug. Signing away her third interest of the family property and only asset to her son Doug, Mrs Birch became ineligible for a pension and was ultimately left financially and emotionally devastated.
The Power of Attorney Act states that it is automatically presumed that an attorney has unduly influenced a person when accepting a gift from someone who is in their financial control.
Legal proceedings were launched against Mrs Birch’s son and Power of Attorney in the Supreme Court. The case alleged that the asset transfer was invalid, as Mrs Birch was unduly influenced by her son and Power of Attorney. In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in the defendant’s favour, ruling that the property transfer was valid. The decision was upheld in the Court of Appeal in 2019.
Now, after a seven year legal battle, Tracey Ryan, Wills & Estates Practice Leader is continuing the fight for justice on behalf of our client and his Mother, making an application for special leave to the High Court of Australia.
This case highlights the significant responsibility and risk that being appointed a Power of Attorney involves. To ensure your affairs are in order, it is crucial you seek out legal advice before signing any legal document, such as a Power of Attorney or Will.
More information about this case was recently published in The Courier Mail.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: July 20, 2020.