Mum ‘not in write mind’
Siblings’ fight over will hinges on handwriting
A BROTHER and sister are locked in a court battle over their late mother’s will, with questions being asked about whether it was all in the mother’s own handwriting. Emerald caravan park operator John Walsh, 54, has taken out a caveat against a grant of probate on the estate of his late mother, Pamela Walsh, who died in May aged 76. He has questioned the validity of her 2015 will, which left all her assets to his estranged older sister, Melinda Walsh, and her daughter, Marnie. Mrs Walsh’s death certificate said she suffered dementia and type-2 diabetes for “years”, Supreme Court Justice John Bond heard. On Friday Justice Bond dismissed an application by the estate’s executors, Melinda and Marnie Walsh, to set aside the caveat. Justice Bond said the death certificate alone raised “sufficient doubt’’ about Pamela Walsh’s test a mentary capacity at the time the will was executed. Maurice Blackburn la lawyer Naomi De D Costa, for Mr Walsh, W has also filed fi documents questioning qu the validity va of the handwriting ha on Mrs M Walsh’s two-page tw will. “The handwwe writing wr in the execution ex e clause cla c of the will wi is different to y . COURT REPORTER the handwriting used to complete most of the document,’’ she said in an affidavit.
“There appears to be other handwriting, in relation to the gift over the residuary estate, which is different to the handwriting in the execution clause.’’
Mr Walsh said in a court affidavit that his mother had a physical and mental breakdown in 2011 and her health was never the same again. “She was vague and unable to make decisions,’’ he said.
But Melinda and Marnie Walsh filed an affidavit saying she was of sound mind, memory and understanding when she made her will, and there was no undue influence on her.
The trio have also been in a dispute over the affairs of their father, William, who died in April last year, with Melinda’s lawyer filing a caveat over probate of his estate.
Pamela Walsh owned a manufactured home at Coombabah, which Melinda and Marnie listed as their address, but the full value of her estate was unknown, the court was told.
On Friday, Melinda and Marnie Walsh gave an undertaking not to deal with any estate assets.
Justice Bond ordered that they begin proceedings for a solemn form grant of probate, to be decided by a judge, and provide a list of estate assets and liabilities.
He adjourned Mr Walsh’s application for his sister and niece to be removed as executors.
Justice Bond said if it was proved that Mrs Walsh lacked capacity when she made her will, it would mean she died intestate and Mr Walsh would have an interest in her estate.
FAMILY FEUD: Marnie (left) and Melinda Walsh; (inset) John Walsh; the contentious handwriting. Picture: Annette Dew