Ex gets bikes as mates lose fight
A late Nga¯ruawa¯hia man’s mates mounted a legal bid for his treasured motorcycle collection after the bikes were left to an ex-lover he split from more than a decade before his death.
The friends have lost an appeal at the High Court to overturn a decision at the Family Court that found they failed to prove they were the rightful owners, but may take further legal action.
Their mate, Gary Wendt, died aged 68 after a vehicle smashed into the car he was a passenger in at a Hamilton intersection on January 2, 2015.
In his most recent will, drawn up in 1993, he had bequeathed his entire estate, including his 15 motorbikes, to his then-partner Andrea Morrison.
The pair split in 2000 and went on to have other partners — but after his death Morrison was awarded Wendt’s bikes in accordance with the will.
However, friend and fellow motorcycle enthusiast Neville McBeth believed Wendt would have wanted him and other mates they rode with to have them.
The group lodged a claim of rights over the bikes, arguing McBeth had helped Wendt fix up the bikes and Wendt had promised the bikes to him and the other mate while he was alive.
However, Family Court Judge Sharon Otene threw out the group’s application due to a lack of evidence.
McBeth appealed the decision in the High Court, arguing along similar lines as in the previous application.
Justice Van Bohemen dismissed the appeal, ruling that McBeth had not presented enough evidence of the work McBeth carried out on the bikes or of Wendt’s promise to him.
“I can understand the disappointment McBeth and other friends of Mr Wendt when they learnt Wendt made no special provision in his will for the distribution of motorcycles,” he said.
After the hearing, McBeth indicated he planned to appeal again.
Public Trusts spokesman Josh Byers said New Zealanders should update their will every five years and when they experienced a significant life change — such as getting a divorce, buying a new house or the birth of a child.
“It’s really vital to do that and in conjunction with that it’s important to let people — such as beneficiaries or family — know what you’ve actually considered and put within your will.”
About 55 per cent of New Zealanders do not have a will, Byers said.