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Tips for family succession

When a father promises that the family home will one day pass to the children the relief granted by the court, if it doesn’t happen, will not always be the property or its actual value …
These issues were examined by Judge Estcourt in the Supreme Court of Tasmania in the decision of Ryan v Ryan delivered on 10 February 2016.

The plaintiff John Ryan sued his late father’s partner Christa Ryan for the proceeds of a property that she had owned as a joint tenant with the plaintiff’s late father.

Following the death of the father, his partner Christa sold the property and retained the proceeds.

The evidence in the proceedings showed that on a number of occasions the father had said that the house would go to his two children after his death. This evidence was accepted as true by His Honour.

John Ryan had worked on the house while his father was alive, and had not charged his father or his father’s partner for that work.

The relief granted was determined by what good conscience required. His Honour said : “The requirements of good conscience may mean that in some cases the value of the promise may not be the just measure of relief.”

His Honour decided that the appropriate order in this case was that the defendant, Christa Ryan, pay the plaintiff a sum representing his actual loss in not charging his father as he would have done had the promise to give him the property not been made.

From the evidence His Honour calculated this as $28,582 representing consultancy fees, labour, and the purchase of certain materials, and he ordered that the defendant pay to the plaintiff that sum.

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