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Key decisions

  • Bailey v Palombo [2020] NSWSC 1209 
  • The Estate of Frances Kedesch Michell [2020] NSWSC 1300
  • The Estate of Frances Kedesch Michell (No2) [2020] NSWSC 1513 
  • The Estate of Maureen Laila Huber, of Cobram VIC; The Estate of Dolf Paul Huber [2020] NSWSC 1539
  • Guirguis v Girgis [2020] NSWSC 1468 
  • Moore v Aubusson [2020] NSWSC 1466 
  • Rathswohl v Court [2020] NSWSC 1490 

Distribution of intestate estate among multiple spouses

The first issue before the Court in Bailey v Palombo [2020] NSWSC 1209 (Hallen J) was whether Jacqueline Bailey was a spouse of Brian Palombo for the purposes of distribution of his intestate estate. She was, by being a party to a domestic partnership with Palombo immediately before his death (at [230]). Palombo was also married at his death. His wife, Gail, and Palombo had separated in 2010 after 27 years of marriage. At his death in 2018, the marriage had subsisted for 35 years.

The second issue involved the application of s 126 Succession Act 2006 (NSW). Pursuant to that section, the Court was empowered to distribute Palombo’s net estate of $2,687,841 between Bailey and the wife in any way it considered fit and equitable. Although that authority was sourced to a long-standing section in Queensland legislation, the Court observed that this was the first reported decision on the issue. The Court stated there was no presumption of equality. It set out 23 matters which a court might consider in formulating a distribution order under s 126. The Court made a distribution order so that Bailey was secure in accommodation, was able to repay debt and have a sum of $250,000 for exigencies of life (at [402]). The de jure wife received the balance (worth about $2,117,841) as well as about $1,753,556 by reason of survivorship.

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