Ex gets bikes as mates lose fight

Weekend Herald - - News - Brit­tany Keogh

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.

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