Legal Hypothetical: Claim on missing person’s estate


Claim on missing person’s estate

WENDY marries Harry.

She has a daughter to a previous relationship, Penny, who lives with her father overseas.

Six months after the marriage, Wendy and Harry purchase a home together as joint tenants.

Wendy frequently writes to Penny and sends her gifts.

Wendy also makes arrangements for Penny to migrate to Australia.

Six months later, Wendy withdraws $1000 from her bank account and asks her neighbour to drop her off at the bus stop with a suitcase.

All communication with Penny stops.

A further six months pass and Harry contacts the police, stating that he has made every effort to contact Wendy and that he does not know what has happened to her.

Shortly thereafter, one of their family friends reports Wendy as a missing person.

Medicare records indicate that Wendy’s card had not been used since her disappearance. Wendy’s bank accounts had not been accessed and there is no record of her as a ‘customer’ of Centrelink.

The police make further ‘meticulous’ investigations and 10 years pass.

Penny makes an application to the Court, seeking an order that the ‘presumption of death’ applies because more than seven years have elapsed since Wendy was seen alive.

After carefully considering the evidence, the Court declares that although Wendy’s body had not been discovered, on presumption of death, she is no longer alive.

The Court appoints an independent solicitor to administer her estate on the basis that Wendy did not leave a will.

Penny then makes a family provision claim against the estate, seeking an order that half of the jointly owned home be made available to make provision for her.

She is successful in obtaining a substantial out-of-court settlement.

If YOU would like a particular issue addressed, please email Manny at [email protected] or call him on (02) 6648 7487.


By Manny WOOD, Solicitor

Leave a Reply