The Facts

Man dies leaving nothing to transgender daughter in his will

A 93-year-old man died on 22 March 2017.

In his lifetime, he had survived the Holocaust, emigrated to Australia and become a wealthy property developer.

He left behind a wife, two adult children and an Australian estate worth about $12.4 million.

By his will dated 15 May 2012, the deceased left the whole of his estate to his wife if she survived him. She was also appointed his executor.

If his wife did not survive him, then the deceased's children and grandchildren would inherit his estate.

The deceased's son was a businessman and operated a successful company.

The deceased also had a child who was biologically born a male. She identified as transgender and had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

The deceased and his wife found it difficult to accept their daughter's identity. They were Orthodox Jews and had given their children a traditional Jewish family upbringing.

They became estranged from their daughter due to a variety of actions she took to distress and embarrass them.

However, the deceased continued to provide for his daughter financially until the day he died.

Daughter applies to Supreme Court for family provision order

Upon his death, the daughter applied to the Supreme Court for a family provision order.

She argued that her father owed her a moral duty to provide for her maintenance and support after his death, and asked the court for between $3.7 million and $5.56 million out of her father's estate.

Her mother, as the executor of her husband's will, responded that he owed no such moral duty and the daughter should not be granted the amount she was asking for from the estate.

case a - The case for the executor

case b - The case for the daughter

  • My husband, the deceased, did not have a moral duty to provide for our daughter from his estate.
  • It is entirely reasonable that after a marriage of more than 50 years, my husband would make me, his wife, the sole beneficiary of his will.
  • It is also reasonable, considering our daughter's behaviour, that my husband would choose to leave her nothing in his will if I were still alive. She was determined to cause us distress because we didn't think it was prudent to fund her gender reassignment surgery.
  • Our daughter refused to work for over 20 years, seeing it as her entitlement that we cover her expenses. She recently told a psychiatrist that she has the capacity to work, but has "no intention of doing so" until she undergoes gender reassignment surgery.
  • Knowing that my husband suffered lifelong trauma as a Holocaust survivor, our daughter used his faith to hurt him. One Saturday morning she went to services at our synagogue and announced in front of the whole congregation that she was transgender.
  • She also travelled to Tajikistan to fight for the Muslim United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan.
  • When she left to travel to the Middle East, she abandoned the apartment we bought her, leaving it to deteriorate due to water damage.
  • She even devised a plan to kill my husband with a crossbow at a bar mitzvah.
  • Not surprisingly, at the time of my husband's death, we were estranged from our daughter. Despite this, my husband continued to support her financially until the day he died.
  • However, he made it clear in a letter to be given to her on his death that he did not intend this support to continue. The letter stated: "I believe you have been adequately provided for, but I suppose that you will expect more. The purpose of this letter is to tell you why I do not believe that you deserve a bigger amount from my Will".
  • The reasons included that when our daughter moved to Germany, my husband was unable to contact her for six months, before being told that she was in a Palestinian terrorist training camp in Bavaria.
  • The letter also gave examples of her sense of entitlement, such as the time she asked us to pay for a ticket to return home from overseas. When we sent her an economy class ticket, she demanded that it be changed to business or first class. Once my husband bought her a furnished apartment and she sold all of the furniture.
  • Since his death, our family company has continued to pay my daughter a weekly allowance of $1600 just like her father did, so she has no need for a provision out of the will.
  • The moral duty my husband might otherwise have owed our daughter has surely been nullified by her behaviour and by his explicitly stated testamentary intentions.
  • Accordingly, the court should reject our daughter's application for a family provision order.
  • My father had a moral duty to provide for me after his death, including paying for my much-needed gender reassignment surgery.
  • I estimate that my father and his businesses were worth $100 million in 2002. I believe he either gave away most of his assets during his lifetime or the $12.4 probate estimate is understated.
  • My father gave my brother many millions, even providing him with $6.5 million to buy his business.
  • In comparison I was given little financial support. My mother and my brother are both rich and live very comfortably. I am left with practically no financial assets.
  • I know I haven't always been kind to my parents, but their rejection of my identity has caused me deep distress.
  • Even though I changed my name, my parents insisted on referring to me by the male name given to me at birth and on using male pronouns. My mother has even arranged for the monument to my father to refer to me as his son.
  • When my father was alive, he sent me a letter proposing to pay me a weekly sum if I agreed to have no contact with him and my mother. The sum was so low that it would never enable me to have the gender reassignment surgery that I so desperately need.
  • The content of my father's letter was so traumatic that I became depressed and angry. It triggered a psychiatric episode, and that is why I had thoughts of killing him and myself.
  • It's true that I still receive a weekly allowance from the family company. However, the payment is only sufficient to meet my basic needs. It does not adequately provide for my future needs and maintenance, nor does it enable me to get the gender reassignment surgery that is so important to my mental wellbeing. The payments are also at the discretion of my mother and brother, so they can be stopped at any time.
  • I am now 61 years old and have been long absent from the workforce. It would be very difficult for me to find a job to support myself.
  • The moral duty that a father owes to a daughter shouldn't cease just because we had a difficult relationship.
  • The court should make a family provision order granting a portion of my father's estate to me for my maintenance and support.

So, which case won?

Cast your judgment below to find out

Mark Shumsky
Will disputes
Stacks Collins Thompson

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.