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Key decisions

  • Re Abat [2020] VSC 560
  • Re SB; Ex parte AC [2020] QSC 139
  • Estate Tornya, Deceased [2020] NSWSC 1230 
  • Grant v Grant; Grant v Grant (No. 2) [2020] NSWSC 1288 
  • Case 637143 (concerning Australian Super Pty Ltd as trustee)

Court refuses to accept renunciation from intermeddling executor

Elson Abat died in 2018. He appointed Joanna Rentis and Lorenzo Moreno as his executors. Morenzo renounced in early 2019. Rentis proposed to do likewise in mid-2019 but listed various activities that she’d undertaken in relation to the estate. This included making the funeral arrangements; contacting banks, accountant and Land Registry services; obtaining legal advice; closing bank and share trading accounts; paying a credit card debt and legal fees; opening an estate account and paying herself money that she said she’d loaned the deceased. Given her intermeddling with the estate, her renunciation required court acceptance. The Court in Re Abat [2020] VSC 560 (McMillan) explained that the purpose of this requirement was to protect beneficiaries and creditors (at [32]). ‘Circumstances where the Court may accept the renunciation of an executor notwithstanding that he or she has intermeddled in the estate may, for example, include where all the beneficiaries are adults, whether their legal rights are fully explained to them, their understanding of their legal rights, the consequences of the renunciation for them, whether they wish the renunciation to be accepted and the grant to be made to another person’ (at [33]). The Court acknowledged that, if Rentis’ renunciation was not accepted, there would be further costs and delay in the administration of the estate (at [39]). However, there was a general dearth of evidence to support her asserted entitlements as a creditor of the estate. The Court considered her intermeddling was unsatisfactory as she had primarily benefitted herself. In the circumstances, the Court did not accept her renunciation (at [44]). Nevertheless, having regard to her conduct, the Court passed over Rentis as executor.

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