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Nothing for killer’s children from will

The children of a woman who murdered her father are not entitled to a share of their grandfather’s estate, a court has ruled.

Redcliffe man Edward Savage, 51, was killed by daughter Gail Beazleigh in 2000. She was sentenced to life in prison in 2002.

In his will, Mr Savage left the whole of his estate to his three children, Steven, Edward and Gail, in equal shares, upon each child reaching 25 years.

The will also contained a gift over provision to their children should any of the three predecease him. Edward died in 1997, leaving two children.

Probate was granted in 2000, with one third of the estate granted to Steven, and the remaining $519,000 held in trust pending a decision about whether Gail’s three children were entitled to what would have been their mother’s share but for her crime.

In his Supreme Court decision delivered on Friday, Justice Burns said the forfeiture rule applied.

“What is not so clear is whether the gift over provision in the subject will is effective to pass what, but for the forfeiture, would have been Ms Beazleigh’s share of her father’s estate to her three children,” he said.

Justice Burns considered different approaches taken in similar cases.

Adopting a literal construction would mean the exact contingency had not occurred for the gift over provision to operate, he said.

“I am unable to read the gift over provision in the subject will as though it was intended to cover any eventuality under which the primary gift did not take effect,” he said.

“Nor can it be concluded as a matter of necessary implication that the deceased must have intended his gift to his daughter would pass to her children if he was murdered by her.”

Justice Burns also said there was no evidence to impute a trust for the benefit of Mr Savage’s grandchildren of what would have been their mother’s share of the estate.

“The contingency for the gift over in question not having occurred, and there being no other basis for holding that the provision was effective to pass what, but for the forfeiture, would have been Ms Beazleigh’s share of her father’s estate to her three children, that part of the net estate must be distributed in accordance with the other terms of the will,” he said.

Accordingly, Justice Burns ordered that Gail’s share be distributed to Steven (half), and to Edward’s children (a quarter each).

He also ordered that the costs of the application to be paid from this share.

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