Grown-up children lose appeal relating to father's estate
THREE grown-up children - one accused of exerting "undue influence" over their late father to get him to sign over his Mackay properties to them - have lost their appeal relating to his estate.
Bruce George Gillespie had signed the titles for a home in Atkinson St, where he lived with his wife Gloria, and two units in Byron St, to his children from a previous marriage, Geoffrey, William and Annette.
He had met Gloria at old time dancing and they married in 2002, when he was aged 76 and she 62. The property title transfers occurred shortly after they married. He also signed several other documents, including another will, in which he left everything to his second wife, and powers of attorney.
Mr Gillespie went to Brisbane in 2010 for bowel cancer treatment and on return to Mackay his oldest son told his second wife she could not live in the Atkinson St house as Mr Gillespie would be going into a home for care. But Mrs Gillespie gained entry into the house and cared for her husband in the house until he died.
Nine days after the death she was given a notice to vacate the residence. A civil case ensued.
The three children did not take issue with the trial judge's finding that Geoffrey had placed undue influence on his father because he feared they would lose their inheritance.
They argued in the Court of Appeal that Mrs Gillespie's case should not succeed on a legal technicality, noting they were not notified of any claim to impeach their title on the houses until after their father had died, almost nine years had passed between the transfer and the court case, and that the delay had resulted in prejudice to them.
They also contended Mr Gillespie's passively consented in the "gift" of transferring the house titles to them.
Justice Margaret Wilson, with agreement from two other Court of Appeal justices, found the trial judge "properly rejected" the children's claims. She said it was not open on the evidence to conclude Mr Gillespie knowingly consented to his rights being violated.
Justice Wilson said Mrs Gillespie held her husband's enduring power of attorney but she knew little about the house transfer in questions beyond the fact it had been effected.
The Court of Appeal's decision means Mrs Gillespie, 71, can remain living in her house as administrator of her late husband's estate.
Two other properties left to the children, the two units in Byron St, have already been sold.