This is my mum’s story, summarising the distressing and painful court case that has ended with her losing her home she worked so hard for, and without being able to say good-bye to her mother because of this court case.
This is her story.
Practically everything has been taken – my house, my property, and both my parents dead without being informed of their death.
I’m 67 years old, I worked hard throughout my life to be able to get a home for myself and my children, and now I have to start all over again. Unable to afford to buy a home, renting wherever I can get.
I hesitate to ask for help; however, I feel this is my last option. I also speak of this, because I wonder how common this is. People that I talk to seem to know of someone that has gone through something similar.
I brought a property so I could build a house on it, along with a granny flat separate from the main dwelling for my parents to live in. Their health was getting worse, and I wanted to be close to them so I could drive my father to Middlemore hospital three days a week for him to get dialysis.
My brothers occasionally helped my parents out. When my father was diagnosed with bowel cancer, he made the decision to come home and die from kidney failure (a much quicker and less painful death). As the doctors said his cancer was beyond treatment.
We brought him home, and my brother who lives in America, came to stay with his wife. Sadly, arguments kept on ensuing. I tried to make the best of the terrible situation.
A big fight occurred, with my younger brother and wife even bullying my youngest daughter, who was over at the house to stay the night to look after my father in case he needed anything during the night.
The following night my father died; however we were not informed of his passing. They didn’t try to ring, or even come over when we were right next door. It was my youngest daughter who went over to see her grandfather to see how he was, no one was in the lounge where he slept. She went in to see him and found him dead.
This was, of course, very upsetting. Even though we knew he would die at some point, my youngest daughter was particularly close to her grandfather, and to find him dead without warning was heartbreaking.
The tension and hostility ensued throughout the funeral. After my father was buried, I found out my brothers had driven my mother to see a lawyer, and make sure her will was changed in favour of them. Leaving my daughters and myself completely out of the will.
After awhile, my mother and I made amends, and she changed her will so that her will was fairly split, so that myself and my brothers got a third each of her estate.
My eldest brother came to live with her in her house, and things got steadily worse. Until I was forced to call the police because my oldest brother hit me across the head.
My mother’s social worker had wanted my mother to go into rehab to help her recover from a broken arm while she was in the care of my brother.
While she was not living there, my brother couldn’t live in the house either. I got a protection order against him, and a trespass order. Unfortunately, this only caused my mother to become very resentful towards me.
From there, everything seemed to fall apart. My brothers decided to bring a court case against me to force me out of my place, and claimed the property was theirs, and I wasn’t entitled to any of the proceeds.
My mother had to go into rehab for her health was getting worse, and unfortunately, she sided with them (I am unsure if my brothers caused her to be fearful if she didn’t side with them).
She changed from me being power of attorney to my older brother being power of attorney, and also changed her will again, in which myself, nor my daughters are included in this change of the will.
When presented in the court case that this last will was clearly not in her handwriting; however, was similar to how my brother writes, my lawyers pointed this out to the judge, whom dismissed this, along with other evidence pointing in my favour.
Instead, the judge sided with them on everything. Including, her first ruling saying I had to pay all their legal fees (even though I was on legal aid), and I had to pay rent, as well as keep paying off the mortgage, rates for both houses, and maintenance of the property.
Thankfully, when I went to the court of appeal, their initial assessment was because I was on legal aid that I did not have to pay all their legal fees, nor rent. I just had to pay the rates, mortgage for the property and maintenance.
It took 6 months for the appeal court judges to come back with a decision, in which on every other aspect they agreed with the High Court judge’s decision. And instructed that I had to pay one set of court costs, the amount between $13,000 and $15,000.
I was devastated. To make matters worse, my youngest daughter, whom has been sick for her entire life, had put in her small inheritance to help with the purchase of the property that had been left to her by her father.
When he died of cancer when she was two years old, he left $20,000 to both my daughters. My eldest daughter also initially put her inheritance into the property; however, I gave it back to her when she needed money to put into a house of her own.
However, because my youngest daughter was constantly sick, she left her inheritance in this property. I had all the proof this is what she had done; however, none of the judges acknowledged this, and now my daughter has also lost her inheritance, while my brothers have gotten most of everything else.
They wanted me out within 2 weeks, and sought the judge’s decision on this matter. She gave me 6 weeks to move out, at the same time she mentioned the death of my mother, this was the first time I had heard of it.
My mother died 1 day before the court of appeal, in 2018. Throughout the submissions, no one mentioned that my mother was already dead. I can only speculate why they did not say anything.
Even now, their lawyers are refusing to tell me where she is buried, and refusing to give a copy of my mother’s will to my lawyer.
Now, I am struggling to get my head around everything, trying to find enough money to move house, and find another place to rent.
My youngest daughter cannot work as she has Fibromyalgia, Endometriosis, Blood clotting disorder, anxiety, and has no large bowel because of mistakes made in the hospital, so battles with a range of symptoms associated with that.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, the bank informed me that because this was a court order that I had to sell my property, I had to keep paying the mortgage even after I am forced to leave my house.
So, I have to not only pay rent at another house, I am having to pay mortgage on the house I am not even allowed to live in anymore. Even though when the house sells, the bank will get their money back from my small percentage of the sale, they are still insisting I have to pay mortgage in the meantime.
I also have all my legal fees that I have to pay back.
I am only on the NZ super, so paying rent and a mortgage is financially impossible.
I share my story to perhaps connect with others in a similar situation, sharing advice, and also helping people become more aware of how the court system really works. And even if you get involved with family in regards to a house or business, make sure EVERYTHING is in writing, and that everyone has their own lawyers to make sure everything is legally binding.
I know that was one of my mistakes was to believe that family wouldn’t go this far. That I was protected because my name was on the title of the property. However, anything can be misconstrued, taken out of context, or completely disregarded or reworded to support another’s story.
It is incredibly sad how people are like now. That for many, you can’t even trust your own family.
That’s my mum’s story. If you want to comment, or share with me your story, please feel free to message me in the Contact Me section of my blog.