A Sydney couple has landed themselves a waterfront property worth as much as $40million after a court found their elderly neighbour would have wanted them to have it.
Barbara Murphy died aged 83 in her beloved home at 68 Louisa Road in Birchgrove, in the city’s inner west, in 2015.
Ms Murphy also owned the neighbouring 66 Louisa Road home, with both properties boasting views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and worth at least $15million, and possibly more than double that.
Before she died Ms Murphy had informed her neighbours, David Moore and his partner Dee Andreasen, that she was planning on leaving them the entire estate.
She made the promise on the condition the couple would not extend their property to block her harbour views and care for her so she did not have to go into a nursing home, the NSW Supreme Court heard.
Barbara Murphy died aged 83 in her beloved harbour front property at 68 Louisa Road in Birchgrove, in the city’s inner west, in 2015 (pictured)
Ms Murphy also owned the neighbouring 66 Louisa Road home, with both properties boasting views of the bridge, water and islands
In return, the couple told the court Ms Murphy would leave them her entire estate, including two properties worth $9million at the time.
Both properties are worth more than double that now.
In a lengthy dispute over her estate, the couple said they were shocked to find out Ms Murphy had left them just $25,000 in her will.
Mr Moore and his partner purchased the neighbouring property at 70 Louisa Road in 1999. At the time it was described as the ‘worst house in the best street’.
They intended to renovate the home to make a profit but changed their mind when Ms Murphy, who owned both 66 and 68, said she would be devastated if she lost her view.
Chief Judge in Equity of the NSW Supreme Court, Julie Ward, told the court all three properties ‘extend down to Sydney Harbour’.
Chief Judge Ward also admitted the homes had a ‘generally perceived advantage in the context of the real estate market’ with the prized harbour views.
Mr Moore told the court that his elderly neighbour praised him and his partner and said they had been ‘so good’ to her over the years.
‘I want you and Dee to help me to stay living here,’ Ms Murphy said, according to Mr Moore.
Before she died Ms Murphy had informed her neighbours, David Moore and his partner Dee Andraesen, that she promised to leave them the entire estate
‘Will you help me to do that as I get older? I will see to it that in my will everything goes to you and Dee when I am gone.’
Mr Moore promised he would take care of Ms Murphy and ‘look after her’ as she got older, he told the court.
‘We are sure that we can figure out a way that we can renovate without building out your view. Then if you leave everything to us in your will, we are very happy with that,’ he said.
Just a year before her death Mr Moore took Ms Murphy to see her solicitor to get a new will but was horrified to discover that the elderly woman had not included him.
Instead, she left her entire estate to her brother and sister equally and if she outlived them the money was to go to two Sydney hospitals.
After Ms Murphy’s death Mr Moore contacted his lawyer saying he was ‘unhappy’ he had been left with $25,000 when he had been promised the entire estate.
Ms Murphy’s sister was also surprised she inherited so much property since she was told the estate would go to the neighbours, the court heard.
In return, the couple told the court Ms Murphy would leave them her entire estate, including two properties worth $9million at the time (Birchgrove pictured)
Her brother also admitted he had no interest in the property as he did not know how much it was worth.
Mr Moore visited Ms Murphy’s brother and sister, both in their 80s at the time, and asked for both of them to give up their share to him.
Both refused, to which Chief Judge Ward said she was ‘not surprised’.
‘That to my mind was surprisingly optimistic, though perhaps I am too cynical’, she said.
The court heard Mr Moore and Ms Andreasen decided to take legal action because they had kept their side of the agreement.
Chief Judge Ward ruled she was satisfied there was a ‘clear representation by the deceased to the effect that, if the plaintiffs looked after her (in the way in which Ms Andreasen had been looking after her own mother), so that the deceased could stay in her own home for as long as possible, then the deceased would leave the Louisa Road properties to them’.
Ms Murphy’s lawyer and both her siblings have all died since the legal proceedings began.
The transfer will go through to the Mr Moore and Ms Andreasen by the end of the month.