26 July 2021

Destructive Excavator Results in Distressed Executor

Charlie Young
Charlie Young Litigation Lawyer

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.

It’s usually because there’s a history in the family of deep-seated issues involving the deceased or other family members.

In this particular Will dispute, two Queensland brothers took their sweet revenge to a rarely seen level.

Their mother Lois had lived with their sister in a quaint country Victorian town.

Lois died leaving a very modest estate comprising mainly of her small aging house thought to be worth around $100,000. Their sister was executor and she along with the brothers were all to benefit fairly equally. But the details of the Will are not what’s relevant.

It’s fair to assume the sister was probably not on the brothers’ Christmas card lists. The brothers were unhappy knowing their sister would inherit anything from Lois’  estate and, the Court heard, they were determined to see that she not receive a cent.

It was alleged that the brothers drove down from Queensland and hired themselves a mini excavator. The day before the house was to go to auction, they fired up the excavator and set about casually tearing the house apart.

There was tomfoolery and laughs aplenty during the “tirade of destruction”, based on phone camera footage helpfully taken at the time.

It’s alleged that they texted a photo of themselves (with the excavator) to their sister, announcing “the renovations have begun”. One brother was filmed on the excavator yelling “chaarge!” with hand defiantly pointing forwards, as it crawled towards the house before smashing a window. There was digging of underground pipes as they looked “for buried treasure”. A large water tank was rolled out of the property and paraded through streets of the country town.

The house was destroyed. Walls were ripped down, foundations were destroyed.

It’s alleged that when the police caught up with the brothers, they told the police that they “had to make sure them (sic) renovations were right before [the auction] tomorrow” and that “we are both tradesmen but we’re ***** rough!”. Later that day they posted a selfie from the MCG with the caption “few beers at the footy after a hard days renovating”.

Suffice to say, the sister was not happy. The house was ultimately sold for $7,500.

While it might have seemed like a good idea at the time, the brothers were charged by Victorian police for damaging property and charged with theft, to which they plead guilty.

The Judge noted that the brothers’ “entirely irrational response” to try and prevent their sister from receiving $30,000 from the house’s sale meant they’d lose a combined $60,000.

It appears they’ll receive substantial fines, lucky to avoid jail, not to mention the possibility of further civil action from the sister.

One can never judge a client who has lived with intense levels of hatred or resentment towards another family member or the deceased. Often it has come about due to some unthinkable acts from the past.

However, it goes without saying that revenge or retribution in an estate dispute will rarely end in a positive outcome for anyone

If you need legal assistance in relation to an estate dispute or are perhaps tempted to make your own ‘renovations’ to an estate property, best to first get in touch with Charlie Young or Chai Hoe today.

 


Individual liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation (personal injury work exempted).

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