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1: Bernard & Bernard [2019] FamCA 421 |
Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Contributions from Parents, Estate Planning, Family Trust, Family Trust, Inheritance, Inheritance, Matrimonial Property, Proceedings to Alter Property Interests, Property, Property Settlement, Rights of Executors and Administrators, Testamentary trust, Wills, Wills & Probate
Judges:  Henderson J

Background: The husband’s father died in 2012 and by his will established a testamentary trust for each of the husband and the husband’s sister. The husband was the primary beneficiary, and the class of other beneficiaries included his spouse, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Despite being named as the primary beneficiary, the husband’s sister was the sole trustee of the trust. The husband was not given a power of trustee appointment and he had no other legal title to the assets of the fund other than being a beneficiary. The sister’s trust mirrored that of the husband’s in that the husband was the sole trustee of her trust. The two trusts operated a partnership which ran the family business of which the husband was the manager. The trusts also owned a commercial prop 
  [Legal Issue]In this case the divorcing husband and his sister both had testamentary trusts established under the Will of their father. Both were the trustee of the other’s trust. Neither was a beneficiary of the other’s testamentary trust. The Court considered whether assets held in the husband’s testamentary trust formed part of the matrimonial property pool available for distribution between the husband and the wife after divorce.   [Court Orders]The Court rejected the wife’s claims and held that whilst the assets of the husband’s trust were a financial resource it was not matrimonial property on the basis that: -the husband had no control over his sister as the trustee; -the husband could not direct the assets or income of the trust to any person; -the trustee could apply the income of the trust for the benefit of other beneficiaries of the trust, and not just the husband; -the mere fact that the husband’s trust was identica     

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