The young children of a man who died suddenly and unexpectedly in 2014 have lost out after the majority of their father’s estate went to his girlfriend of nine months, despite his written will naming the girls’ mother as the executer and sole beneficiary.
Daniel Leverton, a RAAF mechanic, was only 40-years-old when he passed away after returning from a humanitarian mission following Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu, leaving behind two daughters aged just seven and nine.
News Corp reported that his former partner and mother of his daughters, Angela Watson, believed the girls’ future would be secured, but a woman Leverton had been in a new relationship lodged a claim with Military Super and was awarded $352,170, leaving just $49,664 for the two little girls.
Although his family appealed the decision with the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation, it was upheld as a statutory declaration made by Leverton eight months before he died declared the woman as his live-in partner. There was evidence of joint bills and bank accounts, as well as a statement from the RAAF approving an application naming the the woman as his “interdependent partner”.
According to Leverton’s family, he had only listed the woman as his de-facto to avoid being posted interstate, after being told that he would be posted to Katherine in the Northern Territory.
“It put a terrible burden on Daniel because he didn’t want to be away from his girls, and he asked if there was a way around it,” his father, Geoff Leverton said.
“He had a casual relationship with a young lady at the time … So they advised him that even though it was well below the de facto relationship civil laws of Queensland which is two years, that if he signed a stat dec, they could be recognised as de facto — and then Daniel wouldn’t have to be transferred.”
He also questioned what the point of making a will was, if not to protect family members in these circumstances.
The situation could have been avoided if Leverton has nominated a beneficiary on his superannuation account, but he had never thought to.
Now, ex-partner Watson hoped that their story will help others better plan for the worst in future.
“We can’t gain anything now, we can’t get the money back, but I just want people to be aware,” she said.
“People think that a will covers all that stuff, but it won’t.”