Some might say it’s just not cricket.
Marcia Lavender and Greg Benaud, the first wife and one of the sons of Australian cricket legend Richie Benaud, have commenced legal proceedings in the New South Wales Supreme Court. Those proceedings are said to be in respect of a dispute over the contents of Richie Benaud’s Will and the value of his estate, according to media reports in the Sydney Morning Herald and Daily Telegraph.
Richie Benaud and Marcia Lavender were married in 1953 but were divorced in 1967. They had two sons, Gregory and Jeff. Richie later remarried Daphne after the divorce. Richie and Daphne lived together until Richie’s death earlier this year.
The estate is said to include a unit at Coogee together with various investments and trusts.
In New South Wales, certain “eligible persons” are entitled, under section 57 of the Succession Act, to bring a claim against the estate of a deceased person. An eligible person includes; the current and former spouse (or defacto partner) of the deceased as well as the children of the deceased.
If an eligible person does bring a claim against a deceased estate, and provided that claim cannot be settled, the Court may take into account the following factors when deciding whether to make the order sought by the applicant for payment from the estate:
- the nature and duration of the relationship between the applicant and the deceased,
- the entitlements of other persons to the deceased person’s estate,
- the size of the deceased person’s estate
- the financial resources (including earning capacity) and financial needs, both present and future, of the applicant,
- the age of the applicant when the application is being considered,
- any contribution by the applicant to the welfare of the deceased person
- any gifts given or payments made to the applicant by the deceased person, either during the deceased person’s lifetime or made from the deceased person’s estate,
- evidence of statements made by the deceased person, and
- the character and conduct of the applicant before and after the date of the death of the deceased person.
A question that is often asked in relation to such Will disputes is “shouldn’t you be allowed to leave your assets to anyone you want?” In reality, the law allows certain people who believe they have been “left out” of (or treated unfairly in) a Will, to bring a claim against an estate. Greg Benaud and Marcia Lavender certainly appear to fall within the category of eligible persons and are therefore entitled to challenge Richie Benaud’s Will and seek payment from his estate. At last report, the matter was headed to a mediation conference.