Peter Brock & the Will Kit

A car once owned and raced by Peter Brock broke an Australian motorsport auction record after it was sold at auction last weekend.

Peter was one of Australia’s best-known and most successful motor racing drivers. In September 2006, while competing in a road race, Peter’s car skidded off a bend and hit a tree; he was killed instantly aged 61.

Peter’s friend and car enthusiast Peter Champion who opened the Brock Museum at Yeppoon, in Central Queensland in 2007, bought most of Peter’s racecars and housed the collection in Yeppoon until the museum was relocated to the Dreamworld theme park in 2015.

All but one of the cars in the collection were bought by an anonymous buyer 5 months ago before being auctioned over the last weekend with Peter’s 1982 Holden Commodore that won the 1982 and 1983 Bathurst 1000 races selling for $2.1 million.

The decision to break up the collection has disappointed Peter’s younger brother, Phil.

“Pete’s still got a huge amount of fans out there and that’s what the cars should be there for is for them to peruse.”

Peter’s former partner, Beverley, said she was comfortable with the decision.

“It will be very sad to see it split up…it doesn’t change anything… they were all Peter’s cars, they will always in essence be Peter’s cars and anyone who is going to spend that amount of money on a car is going to look after it.”

Peter was married twice, in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. There were no children of either marriage. Between 1976 and 2005, he was in a de-facto relationship with Beverley they had two children Robert and Alexandra and treated Beverley’s son, James, from a previous relationship as his own child.

Peter and Beverley’s relationship ended and at the time of his death, Peter was in a de facto relationship with and engaged to, Julie Anne Bamford, they had jointly purchased a property at St Andrews – which was mortgaged at the time of Peter’s death.

 In July 1984, Peter had a Will made by his solicitor – the will was validly executed, and provided for specific monetary gifts to Peter’s parents, children, Beverley, and other family members; Beverley and the children could live in the family home until her remarriage or death, or until the youngest of the children turned 18; and left Beverley all furniture including Peter’s trophies and other sporting memorabilia. The residue of the estate was to be distributed to Peter’s parents, Beverley and the children.

 In 2003, Peter’s personal circumstances had changed importantly both his parents had died so Beverley suggested on several occasions that he update his will.

Peter expressed the view that, after he died he would not be around, therefore, had nothing to worry about. Beverley expressed her concern that she would have to  “resolve the mess should Peter die before her, so for all our sakes he should assist me and make the effort.”

Peter completed a “do-it-yourself” will kit leaving blank those parts of the will kit which disposed of his property. Peter told Beverley that, as he trusted her completely, she could complete the remaining sections of the will at the time of his death, that she should then sign and date it, and “he would be more than happy with that”.

Peter then signed the will kit as testator, in the presence of both Beverley and an employee who signed and completed her details in one of the sections reserved for witnesses. Beverley did not witness the will.

As the 2003 Will made no provisions disposing of Peter’s estate. The Court had to decide that if the 2003 Will was valid, and if it was, due to the fact that it named no beneficiaries the estate would be administered in accordance with the rules of intestacy.

In July 2006, Peter brought a will kit to his office and dictated his wishes to an employee who filled out the form. Later that same day, the employee used her rough notes to prepare a hand-written document entitled “The Wishes of Peter G Brock” – however, Peter didn’t sign either document nor was the Will document witnessed.

The Court held that the 2003 Will was not a valid will as it was signed by one, not two, witnesses, therefore, it does not meet the required formalities. However, the Court held that Peter’s mistaken assumption that he could delegate the task of deciding who was to take benefit under the will to someone else does not invalidate the entire will.

Importantly the Court was satisfied it was Peter’s intention that the 2003 Will revoked all previous Wills, including the 1984 Will. Therefore Peter died intestate and the entire estate was left to his biological children Robert and Alexandra who agreed to divide the estate equally with their stepbrother James.

Brock’s partner, Julie commenced a family provision claim against the estate that was later settled out of court.

If a competent legal practitioner had drafted the Will, these problems would not have arisen and Peter’s loved ones would have been spared a great deal of trouble and expense.

 

 

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