The Hobart business journalist who sparked the Tasmania Law Reform Institute's review of family estate law is asking others impacted by notional estate legislation to share their experience to bring about change.
Nina Hendy pushed for the changes to notional estate legislation after her father, a prominent Launceston businessman, died from brain cancer in 2015 and she discovered that millions of dollars in assets had been stripped from his estate in the final months of his life.
"Tasmanian businessmen like my father are renowned for having complicated financial and business structures in place such as trusts, transferring properties into their partners’ name, and tenants-in-common arrangements for tax minimisation purposes," she said.
“That does not mean that they don't want their children, grandchildren or other family members to receive an inheritance.
"He was still running his business and was fit and healthy when he was suddenly diagnosed and having brain surgery. It was all so quick."
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Her father’s estate was empty when he died, meaning his will could not be enacted.
“Transferring everything out of someone’s name or selling assets to prevent family from receiving an inheritance is common in Tasmania, because the existing laws allow it. I naively thought being a loved daughter would count for something in a legal sense, but it means nothing here in Tasmania.”
“Notional estate laws would have given a judge the discretion to address the blatant unfairness created by this gap in the law which allows someone to decant assets from an estate before the will kicks in.
“With the right protections in place, a judge could have treated dad’s estate as still intact and applied some common sense to ensure his own children received an inheritance.”
Ms Hendy said many other Tasmanians had contacted her since she began this campaign, sharing similar stories about a parent leaving an empty estate, particularly children from blended families.
The institute wants feedback on its issues paper.
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