It is very common for past grievances to resurface during the difficult days following the death of a beloved parent. Emotions are high, everyone is exhausted, and difficult decisions need to be made which makes for a volatile situation.
When there are unresolved family dynamic issues below the surface it creates an even greater likelihood of a difficult and contentious period after the death of a parent. This is similar to coping with death overall.
It is infinitely important to allow for unresolved family dynamic issues to be exposed and processed before it’s too late. Allowing these destructive feelings to linger will only make the inevitable death of parents an even more hurtful occurrence.
And it’s not just jealous siblings who spark inheritance wars. Issues around second marriages and de facto relationships are also notorious for causing heartache as are simple glitches in the will, poorly worded phrases and assumptions.
The prevalence of blended families in Australia is rising. In fact, approximately 1 in 3 first marriages end in divorce. Unfortunately, parents entering second relationships unwittingly jeopardise their children’s future prosperity by blindly relying on the good faith of their new partner, if they were to die or become permanently disabled.
When you think about it, if a parent dies after entering a subsequent relationship, it must be determined how much of the deceased’s assets should go to their children from a previous marriage or relationship versus their new spouse. There are many tricky scenarios that arise.
There are people who have reasons to want to treat their children unequally, and that’s certainly their right, but the children being treated unequally will not necessarily appreciate that.
This is certainly the case in the Estate of the late Ian “Roscoe” Ross a popular newsreader who was on Channel 9’s Today Show from 1993 until his retirement in 2003 before coming out of retirement to work for Channel 7 from 2004 until 2009.
Ross’s only son, Stuart Ross, a cleaner and woodworker from the Byron Bay hinterland, has applied to the Queensland Supreme Court in a bid to claim a slice of the estate from his dad’s jetsetting partner, Gray Bolte.
Details of the strained family relationships of the much-loved newsreader were revealed in court after Stuart sought a slice of his father’s estate, which was left entirely to Mr Bolte.
Mr Bolte, 79, told the court he started a relationship with Ian Ross in 1993 after they met at a dinner party, and that he and Ross “spent most of our funds on overseas travel in the several years before Ian passed away. It was a lifestyle we enjoyed living together”.
The pair travelled abroad up to three times a year, often to stay at their villa in Bali, the court was told.
His estranged son Stuart, has been accused of making threats, which forced Channel 7 to offer 24-hour security to protect Ross and his de facto partner Gray.
It is reported that Mr Bolte labelled Stuart a pothead and dropout who leeched off Mr Ross and threatened acts of violence when he refused to give him money.
“There were endless phone and SMS threats from Stuart,” he said in his affidavit.
Ross was also survived by two other children, Elizabeth, 52 and Amanda, 46.
This week the court was told Mr Bolte’s lawyers claim that Ross’s estate was worth less than $500,000. Mr Bolte claims other assets were gifted to him before Ross’s death.
In sensational claims made in the Queensland Supreme Court, Stuart’s lawyers have asked Mr Bolte’s lawyers “Where has all the money gone?”, and questioned the sale of a $315,000 investment property days before Ross’s death, the mortgage over a Bali villa and the transfer of $102,560 into Mr Bolte’s account two days before he died.
Stuart Ross’s lawyers claim the estate could be expected to be larger because Ian was “on a salary of $800,000 to $1 million a year as a newsreader at Channel 7 from January 2004 to November 2009, and a very substantial income prior to that as a newsreader at Channel 9 since 1965 (star newsreader on The Today Show from 1993)”.
Over and over, client’s who are caught in a family inheritance battle tell us that they had assumed this sort of thing could never happen to them.
Our experience proves one thing: It really can happen in any family even your family.
What then would you do if a family member or a person whom you had a relationship with passed away and you suddenly found out you had been left out of the will?
How would you know if you are eligible to make a claim? Would you know who to talk to?
If you chose to challenge the will should you act quickly? Most certainly as different statutory time limits apply in each State of Australia.
How would you be able to seek the right advice, from the right people, and then respond accordingly… whilst at the same time overcoming the grief of your loss?
At Attwood Marshall Lawyers we have been advising clients on their eligibility and rights for over 70 years and have a team of dedicated Estate Litigation Lawyers who can advise you today on challenging or defending a Will. Contact Melissa Tucker on direct line 07 5562 2498 or our Department Manager Donna Tolley on direct line 07 5506 8241 (or email [email protected]) or freecall 1800 621 071 for a free initial consultation.