“My mother agreed to us buying a house together, but now she wants her money back.” Which case won?
Daughter, son-in-law and mother live together in rented house in town
A mother, daughter and son-in-law lived together in a house they rented in town.
However, they all agreed that in order for the daughter and son-in-law to provide accommodation and care properly for the mother, they would need a larger house.
To achieve this objective, they signed a deed of family arrangement.
Deed specifies benefits to mother in exchange for financial contribution
The deed required the daughter and son-in-law to purchase a specified property in the town “or some other suitable accommodation”. They would also allow the mother to live with them.
The deed also required them to take care of the mother’s needs and to fund her transition to an aged person’s unit or care facility when necessary.
The mother agreed to provide her life savings of $220,000 to the daughter and son-in-law to assist with the purchase of the specified property, which was priced at $470,000.
In December 2011 the daughter and son-in-law completed the purchase of the property and moved into it with the mother.
Relocation out of town leads to mother demanding return of money
A few years later, the daughter and son-in-law informed the mother that they were selling the house in town and buying a more expensive house 25 kilometres outside of town.
In doing so they took out a large new bank loan.
The mother moved with them to the new house.
However, a short time later she moved out and demanded the return of the $220,000.
The daughter and son-in-law refused, asserting that the mother had agreed to the move.
Mother unsuccessfully seeks remedy in Supreme Court and lodges appeal
The mother filed a statement of claim with the Supreme Court of NSW, seeking the return of her $220,000 gift.
The Supreme Court rejected her claim, and she appealed to the NSW Court of Appeal.