A gift in a homemade will read as follows:

“I now want my carer Violetta Del Campo of … to receive $50,000 provided that she has remained my carer until my death.”

The question was whether Ms Del Campo had satisfied the condition that she remained the deceased’s carer until the time of his death.

From 2004 the deceased required help around his home. He engaged the services of Ms Del Campo to clean his house, for which she was paid $50 a week.  As time went by the deceased required greater assistance with his home duties and in addition to cleaning his house, Ms Del Campo started to attend to his shopping, laundry and cooking.  She also began to help with maintaining his garden, driving him to medical appointments and helping bathe him.  She would take the deceased on regular outings and would generally provide companionship.  At some point, her pay increased to $500 per fortnight.

The codicil providing the conditional gift was made in 2011.

In mid-2012 the deceased’s condition deteriorated and he was admitted to hospital and then a nursing home.  From that time he could no longer live at his home alone because his cognitive capacity had declined significantly.

Following his admission to the nursing home, Ms Del Campo continued to visit the deceased, usually daily and often more than once a day.  She assisted with feeding, medication, cleaning his room, taking him for walks and companionship.  At some point, her pay was decreased to $300.00 per fortnight.

Held:

  • It was necessary to ascertain how the deceased understood the word “carer” at the time that he made the codicil, and then to consider whether the assistance and support provided by Ms Del Campo at the time of his death was of a comparable quality and nature.
  • The duties that Ms Del Campo provided to the deceased at the nursing home were akin to the duties that she provided to him while living at home.
  • The condition was satisfied. Ms Del Campo was entitled to the legacy.

Read Stevens v Turner here.