Richie Benaud’s Family Provision Claim

 

Richie Benaud, was an Australian cricketer and Broadcaster who, became Australia’s Test captain and the first player to reach 200 wickets and 2,000 runs in Test cricket. He has been described as “perhaps the most influential cricketer and cricket personality since the Second World War.”

Richie married Marcia Lavender in 1953; the marriage lasted 14 years and produced two sons, Gregory and Jeffery.

In 1967 Richie divorced Marcia and married Daphne Surfleet just as he was beginning his broadcasting career. He and Daphne lived in Coogee and the south of France. It was reported that Richie liked being near the ocean,

“I love looking at water,” he said. “It’s quite something to come home to … to come home from overseas and see Wedding Cake Island, it’s just beautiful.”

The Coogee apartment could sell for over $2 million with the French flat, worth between $1 million to $1.5 million.

A former spouse of the deceased may be eligible to apply for family provision. In NSW a former spouse of the deceased is eligible without having to meet any further criteria of eligibility.

The Act defines a dependant as including the child, and a former wife or husband of the deceased person, and gives the Court scope to assess if adequate provision for the proper maintenance, education or advancement in life of the person has not been made by the will of the deceased person.

Marcia and her son Gregory contested the Will in the NSW Supreme Court.

It was reported that in Greg’s opinion, that the action was not a money grab but the will did not provide adequate provision for his mother Marcia, who hadn’t spoken to Richie for 20 years and wasn’t invited to his funeral.

Greg’s lawyer told the court “We don’t know what the size of the estate is.

Daphne produced a verified schedule of their financial resources, including assets, liabilities and provide financial documents relating to superannuation the estate which reportedly includes complex property trusts, superannuation funds in Australia and overseas, as well as managed investment funds worth tens of millions of dollars.

Factors relevant to a claim by a divorced wife include the culpability of the deceased in relation to the grounds of the divorce, the length of time from the separation of the spouse and the course that the lives of the two spouses have followed since separation.

Richie wrote of his divorce from Marcia: “My wife and I had been separated for over two years and I was divorced for desertion”. He agreed to pay his ex-wife Marcia $52 a week and $10 a week each for his sons and she got the matrimonial home in Carlisle Cres, Beecroft, which was to be held in trust for the boys.

Richie continued to pay Marcia some alimony every two weeks up until his death, although the amount is not known. She never remarried.

Marcia and Greg lived together in a Department of Housing property in Erina, on the Central Coast. Daphne made a settlement offer to Marcia and Gregory which was declined while they ascertain the true value of the estate.

Richie’s estate includes pension funds in Australia as well as property trusts and managed investment funds and He and Daphne had property in Coogee and Beaulieu-sur-Mer in the south of France where they spent much of the year when Benaud worked in England.

The matter was resolved through mediation between the parties.

Following the mediation Marcia said she was very happy about the outcome and pleased the matter was resolved.

Greg said “Daphne has always been kind to my brother and myself,” and that there was no animosity between them. He said that Richie had told him that if he received a letter from the estate’s lawyer saying I was eligible to make a claim that I should do so. I received that letter following an earlier letter saying I was a beneficiary. I followed my dad’s wishes and I am pleased.”

Early in the day the court highlighted the pitfalls of going to trial, saying it would be costly, uncertain and take some time to  be resolved. Following the agreement the Court stated that if it went to trial  “it would have been a lot longer than one day and I’m sure that it would have been more difficult for all of you”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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