The Supreme Court of New South Wales recently decided a claim made against the estate of Dr. William Garrett.

Dr. Garrett was one of Australia’s most outstanding scientists.

Among his many achievements, at just 31, he was instrumental in the development of ultrasound technology and its use in obstetrics.

As well as being of brilliant intellect, Dr. Garrett was an incredibly kind and generous person.

Following the death of his wife – which had a profound affect upon him – Dr Garrett began developing a new circle of friends……

Perhaps a little unusually for a man who would attend at the opera, music recitals and was proficient in French, German and Italian, Dr Garrett began participating in trivia nights on Tuesday evenings at the Royal Hotel at Paddington.

It wasn’t long before the circle of friends, which included a Mr Jason Gill, were having drinks at the Royal Hotel most nights.

When Mr Gill made it known to Dr. Garrett that Mr Gill had fallen on hard times, Dr. Garrett, true to his spontaneous and generous nature, was eager to provide a helping hand.

What was initially a simple invitation by Dr. Garrett to Mr Gill for him to stay for a short period in Dr. Garrett’s home, ended with the “lodger” residing for more than a decade.

As Dr. Garrett’s physical and mental health started to decline, it became clear to Dr. Garrett’s children that Mr Gill had no intention whatsoever of leaving.

After Dr Garrett’s death, a five-year legal battle commenced.

Not content with the gift of $200,000.00 Dr. Garrett specifically did include in his Will for the benefit of Mr Gill, Mr Gill would claim:

  1. Dr. Garrett had agreed to give Mr Gill Dr. Garrett’s house – a two-storey terrace worth about $2.5million;
  2. There was a mutual assumption that if Mr Gill continued to live with Dr. Garrett as his companion and carer, that Dr. Garrett would gift Mr Gill the property in his Will;
  3. Mr Gill was owed $1,895.338.00 for live-in care; and
  4. That Mr Gill was eligible to seek a further share of the estate as a dependant of Dr. Garrett.

Ultimately, after a lengthy trial involving numerous witnesses, the court dismissed all aspects of Mr Gill’s various claims.

Crucial to the outcome, the court found Mr Gill to be an unreliable witness and rejected substantial parts of his evidence.

It’s certainly a “sobering” lesson for all concerned and a cautionary tale regarding persons that you might mix with at the pub.

Dr Garrett had a valid will but his circumstances changed.

Dr. Garrett (and his children) would certainly have benefitted from formalising the arrangements and terms of Mr Gill’s occupancy in the home.

If your personal circumstances change, particularly your living arrangements, you might want to get some legal advice.