Which case won?

casea
The case for the nephew
  • My relationship with my uncle was much closer than that of uncle and nephew. We were more like father and son. I lived with my uncle and aunt for a decade from the age of nine. They practically raised me.
  • I had very limited contact with my own parents as I was growing up, so the relationship I had with my uncle became a substitute for the relationship with my natural father.
  • My uncle provided me with financial assistance, accommodation and employment well into my adult life. I depended on him.
  • When I got married, my uncle was listed on the wedding invitation in the place of the father of the groom and he assumed that role at my wedding.
  • There was a close bond between me and my uncle throughout his life. When he was diagnosed with leukaemia, I visited him and kept in touch with him by phone.
  • I have debts which I need to attend to. It is true that I have not always made wise financial decisions in my life, but I nevertheless contend that “a just father’s moral duty is to assist the lame ducks amongst his offspring”. The court should allocate a share of my uncle’s estate to me.
caseb
The case for the son
  • It is not true that my father and my cousin were like father and son. My cousin called him “uncle”, not “dad”. When my sister and I were growing up, we never regarded our cousin as our sibling.
  • The bond between my father and my cousin was in no way as close as the bond my father had with my sister and with me.
  • My father helped many relatives emigrate to Australia. Because he was very generous, he took responsibility for all of them. My cousin was merely one of many recipients of my father’s generosity.
  • My father said of my cousin that he “had a bad habit of losing money he cannot afford to lose”, “spends too much money on fancy clothes”, “gambles too much and never goes to work” and is a “good for nothing”.
  • My cousin and my father were not particularly close during the last years and months of my father’s life. When my father was diagnosed with leukaemia the year before he died, he asked me to convey this news to four people. My cousin was not one of them.
  • While my cousin maintains that he kept in touch by phone when my father was ill during the last months of his life, an analysis of my cousin’s phone records shows that he never rang my father.
  • My father made seven wills during his life and did not provide for my cousin in any of them. He had no intention of leaving part of his estate to this nephew and the court should reject my cousin’s family provision application.

So, which case won?

Cast your judgment below to find out
Case A Case B

Case B won. You were right!

How people voted
a18%
b82%

Expert commentary on the court's decision

Zohra AliSenior Associate
"While it was conceded that William lived with his uncle for longer than most of the other relatives from China, this did not negate the fact that he was living with him as a member of his extended family, not as his son. "
Supreme Court finds in favour of executors of estate

In the case Yee v Yee & Anor [2016] NSWSC 360, the court found in favour of the executors of the estate, Robert Yee and Phillip Yee, who were the son and brother of the deceased, Norman Yee.

In doing so, the court rejected the family provision application of William Yee, who was the nephew of the deceased and Robert’s first cousin.

Established pattern of assistance to members of extended family

The court found that William Yee had not had a relationship with his uncle Norman of the kind that William described. The court found that while William had lived with his uncle Norman for a significant period and had been supported by him, both while growing up and into his adult life, it was not because Norman considered William to be like a son.

On the contrary, Norman Yee, as the senior member of the family in Australia, was in the practice of regularly helping relatives from China to migrate and live in Australia. As part of that process, he allowed several of those relatives to live with him, some for a number of years, until they were in a position to move out and live independently.

Court rejects assertions of father-and-son relationship

While it was conceded that William lived with his uncle for longer than most of the other relatives from China, this did not negate the fact that he was living with him as a member of his extended family, not as his son.

The court rejected William’s assertion that he had had a father-son relationship with his uncle. The court found that while William was financially dependent on his uncle to a large extent when he was younger, this could not be said with respect to his adult life.

The assistance Norman Yee provided to William was characterised as symptomatic of his generous nature and his belief that as the eldest member of his family group in Australia, he was expected to help his siblings and their families.

Demonstrated need insufficient to warrant allocation of share of estate

The court found that while William Yee had demonstrated need, that need was largely self-inflicted. Given the circumstances of William Yee’s relationship with his uncle, there were no grounds for Norman Yee’s estate to carry the burden of William’s poor financial decisions.

William Yee later appealed the court’s decision, in Yee v Yee [2017] NSWCA 305. The appeal was dismissed with costs.

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