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Equity Trustees mediates the process so all your family is treated fairly

A feud between two siblings reached new heights over a prized painting until Equity Trustees negotiated a path forward.

Family feuds are common but an unexpected bequest can quickly escalate the conflict.

“For this very reason it's a nightmare to manage, and you'll often end up with arguments,” Equity Trustees Senior Estates and Trusts Solicitor, Trustee and Wealth Services, Suzie Willis, said.

The Montpellier family followed this unfortunate theme when the prized family heirloom – a painting by a famous Australian artist – came under dispute. 

Janet Montpellier had left the painting, some furniture and other items to her second husband. Upon his death, the items were to go to her two children from her first marriage. 

But when it came time for Equity Trustees to deal with the items, all hell had broken loose. 

“This was a family that had some serious head-butting issues with one another,” Suzie said. 

Abusive calls, texts and emails were fly back and forth and the situation was quickly spiralling out of control. 

“It was over this painting. One of the beneficiaries thought it was going to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and the other one really just wanted it sold so he could get his money,” Suzie said. 

Positioning themselves in the middle of the conflict, the Equity Trustees team copped flak from both sides of the family to minimise their interaction. 

“We had to step in and make some decisions. If these people had been allowed to just go at themselves there would’ve never have been any resolution – their views were so oppositional.”

The team got the painting professionally valued and the items sold at auction. While the rift between the siblings remains unresolved, the assets were eventually split between them. 

“It transpired that the painting wasn't worth anything near $300,000 but about $30,000. It was one of those situations where no one really ended up happy, but they do say that the best negotiations are where everyone walks away a little bit wanting.”

While money is the simplest thing to leave behind for relatives, sometimes certain items carry sentimental value. Sometimes it can help to have difficult conversations before leaving directions in a will to prevent pain and arguments among family members. 

A professional firm such as Equity Trustees can always assist with mediating the process and ensure all sides are treated fairly and respectfully. 

This article and more appears in Edition 4 of Generation magazine – View this edition here and previous ones.

Names changed to protect privacy.