• Justeen Dormer

Transgender daughter left out of will receives $3.225 million

Jessica Joss v Judith Joss (executor of the estate of Peter Joss, deceased) [2020] VSC 424

On 22 March 2017, a 93-year-old Jewish man died. He had a wife, two adult children and an Australian estate worth over $12 million. In his will, the deceased left the entirety of his estate to his wife and appointed her as his executor. If the wife did not survive him, the estate would then be inherited by the children and grandchildren.

One of the deceased’s children was a successful businessman and the other was a biological born male who identified as transgender. This was difficult for the deceased and his wife to accept, however, the deceased continued to provide financial support to his daughter until he died.

The daughter was left out of her father’s will and applied to the Supreme Court of Victoria for a family provision order. The basis of her application was that the deceased had a moral duty to provide for her after his death, including paying for her gender reassignment surgery.

She argued that her father gave her brother millions of dollars while she received very little financial support. The deceased and his wife’s rejection of her identity caused her great distress. They sent her a letter offering her a small weekly sum of money if she agreed to have no contact with them. This was traumatic for the daughter triggering a psychiatric episode. At the time of hearing the daughter received weekly allowances from the family company, however, this payment only covered her basic needs and could be stopped at any time. It did not provide for her future needs, including the gender reassignment surgery that is important for her mental health. She is now 61 years old and out of the workforce.

Transgender daughter left out of will receives $3.225 million

The wife on the other hand argued that the deceased did not have a moral duty to provide for the daughter. The daughter refused to work for 20 years and devised tactics to hurt her father. This included a plan to kill her father with a crossbow. The estate argued that the daughter has a sense of entitlement and her behaviour caused the deceased and his wife great distress. This included announcing in front of the whole Jewish congregation that she was transgender and fighting for the Muslim United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan.

Overall, the court ruled in favour of the daughter finding the father did have a moral duty to the daughter, notwithstanding her behaviour over the years. This was because the deceased continually provided financial support to his daughter allowing her to be financially dependent on him. The court ordered a sum of $3.225 million be paid out of the estate as adequate provision for the daughter’s proper maintenance and support.

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