Daunt v Daunt [2013] VSC 706

The plaintiff and the defendant were brother and sons of the deceased. 

While he was alive, the deceased gifted property to one son as a joint tenant.  Upon the death of the father, the title vested solely in that son by survivorship.  This meant that the property did not form part of the deceased’s estate, and could not be subject to a Part IV claim.

The plaintiff made a claim against the estate in the Supreme Court of Victoria alleging (amongst other things) that the defendant had unduly influenced their father.

Daly AsJ found that the brother lacked standing to make a claim.  This was due to the fact that the plaintiff was merely a disappointed beneficiary under his living mother’s estate.  Consequently, the only person who could make such a claim was their mother.

Daly ASJ went on further, however, to make comments as to how she would have decided the case had the plaintiff in fact had standing. Her Honour concluded that there was no undue influence in this case as the transfer had been a voluntary gift where the transferor had fully understood the consequences of the transfer. 

These findings support the use of lifetime (inter vivos) gifts as an effective estate planning tool in some circumstances.