Rural farming and interpretation of “farming machinery” within a Will

farming

As a regional lawyer living in a semi-rural area and with family in the farming industry (and as a succession nerd generally!), I thoroughly enjoyed reading this case.

This case of Frey v Frey [2015] QDC 184 involved an issue of interpretation when the testator gifted “farming machinery” to a beneficiary. With multiple properties (gifted in various ways within the will), the question arose as to what the testator intended “farming machinery” to include.  The court, as authorised to do so, accepted evidence from a rural valuer in determining what items could be identified as “farming machinery”.  After going through a long list of items the testator left behind, the valuer considered these items and categorised them in to the following groups:

  1. items exclusively farming machinery
  2. items predominately farming machinery
  3. items that could be used as farming machinery 
  4. items that are not used as farming machinery

The court accepted the valuer’s opinion and ordered that the categories 1-3 fell within the term “farming machinery” detailed in the Will.

The Court was also called upon to determine the matter of costs and whether the executor had acted appropriately to warrant indemnity from the estate.  The applicant sought that the executor pay the costs of the process personally.

The Court determined that whilst the matter was highly contentious between the parties over the years of the estate administration process, the executor’s actions were not so unreasonable as to warrant the payment of costs by them personally.  The costs were therefore ordered to be paid from the estate on an indemnity basis.

You can read the case here.

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