Judith McIntyre died aged 66 in June 2014. A month before her death, she had a new Will prepared leaving $250,000 each to her adult children Sarah, 34, and Seth, 41, and the rest of her $1.1 million estate to Universal Medicine founder Serge Benhayon.
Her children brought a family provision claim in the Supreme Court seeking provision from the Deceased’s estate in the sum of $550,000 each. Even though they had assured their mother that they would not challenge her wishes.
Judith believed strongly in the teachings of Universal Medicine, and wanted to make a gift that would help establish a teaching Hall as a lasting legacy.
During her life time the deceased made payments of $800,000 to Benhayon to ensure that there is [a] building that is available to the public in Australia to reflect on the principles and guidance given to her by Benhayon that gave her so much support’.
She wished to give this money and to leave money in her Will to expedite renovations of a warehouse into a teaching hall on a property owned by Benhayon. I have discussed this with my children. They have assured me that they will not challenge my wishes.’
The warehouse required extensive renovation and fit out and a complete re-work of the existing space in order to be able to be used as a teaching hall. In cross-examination, Benhayon said that the $800,000 was used to refit and effect renovations to the building located on the property.
The Supreme Court held that Judith knew exactly what she was doing when she made her will, and weighed up the competing considerations of the need to leave a legacy to Sarah and Seth and her desire to promote the teachings of Benhayon. She told Sarah and Seth of her plan to leave a significant part of her estate to Universal Medicine, explained her decision to them and sought their assurance that they would respect her wishes.
If Judith had died intestate she would not have been able to leave money in this fashion as the laws of intestacy follow a strict pattern. Whilst her children would have obtained a greater share of her estate a person who has testamentary capacity is able to direct there estate in whatever way they wish – but in order to do this they must leave a valid Will