Chapter Eight A Will for
When Sheila Jowett died the estate passed to her husband. Before this happened there had been a series of health problems that swung the balance of responsibility for the estate first to Sheila, whence it had been in joint ownership and then back to Tom. Tom always the realist realised that his life was now becoming a matter of when. Sheila sixteen years his junior had kept reasonable health and was on the law of averages going to outlive Tom, therefore one of the worries that Tom carried was that of securing her future after he was gone. The estate was duly made over to her on October18th 1995. Tom himself had been had been in and out of hospital, since 1993, with the debilitating breathing disease know in the medical profession as COAD or chronic airways disease. His lungs due in no small measure to his many years of chain smoking, were literally tissue thin and kept him in a perpetual state of breathlessness. Although he had people who generally cared for him, none were able to break him out of smoking. He certainly refrained from drinking too much alcohol, but this was a hardship that now and again he relented on. Sheila was undergoing chemotherapy at the Gold Coast Hospital and was recovering from major brain surgery for the removal of a tumour. Whilst she was weak and suffering from related sickness, she was also too embarrassed to be visited by her friends. It was for both of them a terrible episode in their lives.
Given that both Tom and Sheila Jowett were both very ill, given that they had no living relations known, given that they were contemplating going back to Britain for the last time, one has to query what the Solicitor Andrew Smyth was doing in allowing the Will to remain intestate, if both of them died in a very short space of time or if they did travel overseas and died simultaneously. The question is not out of place here for between Sept 11th 1995 and March 18th 1996, the Jowett's incurred the services of Robbins Watson's Andrew Smyth no fewer than fourteen times . In that time two Wills were finalised, on 18th October and again on 26th, both in 1995. Each left 100% of the estate to the other. In the event of both being deceased at the same time the proceeds would go to the State.
On March 18th 1996, Smyth's attendance notes read:
Hold on Will at moment
She doesn't agree (presumably 'she' is Mrs Jowett
Wants insurance that beneficiaries will look after Sheila ( there were none at this stage)
If they didn't -nil benefit
He will talk to Sheila again He will then let me know what he wants.
The above are Smyth's transcript notes, yet there were no more appointments made. In view of the urgency of a Will being made and the stated claim of Andrew Smyth that he was looking after his clients interests, it surely suggests wanton negligence on the part of a professional solicitor that Sheila died before her wishes were recorded.
Nineteen days after Sheila passed away in the Gold Coast Hospital, Tom was in Andrew Smyth's office, where a cheque was paid into a trust a/c for money received from the Department of Social Services. This would have been a payment to Tom as a War Veteran. The remainder of the Will proposal made out that day was to answer many questions for Bruce Whiteside, when he came in possession of the Solicitors notes nearly seven years later. During the bitter and choreographed Supreme Court Trial that saw the solicitors have a field day in fleecing the proceeds of the estate, Whiteside was relentlessly hounded for 'missing jewellery and other costly items', by Andrew Smyth. The disgraceful ethics of this solicitor, will feature later in this narrative.
There was something of a feeding frenzy about the entries of April 17 1996. The document says something of what was going on at the home of Tom Jowett. Although the document creates the impression that Sheila had been laid to rest, the truth was that nobody knew exactly what had become of her ashes after the funeral service. The truth was that those who were now relieving Tom of his late wife's possessions , were unaware that her remains were in a small casket on a makeshift shrine, only feet from where they were accepting gifts from a traumatised widower.
Insert Will of June 14 th 1995, See Tasks
What possessed Tom at this point in time, barely ten weeks after his wife of 35 years death and only a fortnight of being rushed to hospital for five days with extreme breathing difficulties.
The answer to this can be found in the proposal set down on June 14th between 11.43 am and 12 45pm. One might call the exercise the result of internal pressures, caused by the immediate proximity of women who sought and received material benefits. No fewer than eleven women featured in the new Will. Later that evening the solicitor attended Tom's home and took more instructions, that encompassed but did not embrace any charities. The solicitor suggested sending him a list of charities that he might consider. One of the concerns of Andrew Smyth was the failure to proportion all the value of his assets, that left an outstanding residue of approximately 48%. During the appointment Tom Jowett became aggravated, possibly from the insistence by the solicitor that he should allocate all his assets. Tom is recorded as having said, 'you're always sitting on tacs (sic)-uncomfortable, all the time'. He went on, 'I can give what I like to who I like can't I', to which Smyth replied, 'Yes'.
This reply was rhetorical, for a few moments later Tom presented Andrew Smyth with a 'an old painting', and consciously wrote beside the notation, -value $0.00.
To those who knew Tom Jowett the idea of hanging worthless paintings within his home was anathema to the man. For a man who expressed to his friend Bruce Whiteside, shortly after this meeting that he did not trust his lawyer, this offer was a spare of the moment decision. This was the first of Tom's Wills and was finally signed on June 28th 1996.
A fortnight later the Will was altered and witnessed. It makes for interesting reading. First of all Tom shells out $4,900 to Robbins Watson. He then removes all beneficiaries from the previous Will, except Carole Crozier and Sylvia Janacek. It is in this Attendance Note that the author Andrew Smyth records that his client is quote, 'not sure about charities'.
Bruce Whiteside, who at this stage of the saga, was no more than casually acquainted with his neighbour. He was not aware of the private affairs of Tom Jowett, yet in a quiet moment over a cup of tea Tom Jowett asked this man to become executor to his Will. Whiteside had allowed the conversation to become inconclusive, by expressing the view that he did not really want to get involved. The reason that Jowett gave at the time was that he did not trust his solicitor. The conversation went no further. However about ten days later Tom approached the subject again. Asked why he was intent on securing Whiteside as an executor he replied as he had previously, 'that he did not trust his lawyer'.
It was at this point that the seed of Whiteside's ultimate involvement was born.
'Why do you say that Tom'?
'He (solicitor) wants me to give my money to charity', Tom was blunt and definite.
'What's wrong with that Tom? After-all, many people do that and I would imagine that a solicitor would suggest that as a matter of form'. Bruce could see nothing wrong with this and more or less said so.
Angrily Tom replied, 'I don't want to leave my money to charities'.
'Well I don't know Tom, you'll have to work that one out yourself. I want no part of this".
With that Tom Jowett stormed inside as fast as his age and condition would allow him. He came back moments later and handed a list of charities that were typed on a plain piece of paper. Whiteside read it, then handed it back reiterating what he had said previously.
From that point on whatever happened between his solicitor and himself never impinged on Bruce Whiteside, until on a night in late November 1999, when Tom Jowett threatened to inflict injury on his friend (by then) if he did not read not one but two Wills. For the moment, the outcome of that evening must remain untold. Against all expressed wishes and direction, those charities had become part of the residual estate.
July 1st 1996 at 12.15pm Tom Jowett visits Andrew Smyth again! The entries are bulleted;
Got a ventilator machine
Bruce (Whiteside) looked after him -will assist a lot
Bruce wants to be executor-telling him where things are.
Put him in as co-executor. OK hasn't made up his mind yet about the rest.
This is held in abeyance until August 8th and carries on. Later in the day Tom Jowett was admitted to the Gold Coast Hospital; he was very ill and spent five days suffering the ravages of COAD.
Sylvia -very good friend
Total contents of house to Sylvia Vera Janacek, -inside, outside and car.
The new Will was legally authenticated.
Bruce Whiteside recalls that the reference to the accolade that Tom narrated to Andrew Smyth, was over exaggerated and wrong. Here is an account that he gave to the writer.
'Tom claimed that I saved his life, which as far as I was concerned was bullshit. One night, it must have been about 1.30am, the phone went and awakened from a deep sleep my next door neighbour was in a plight of panic. I put on some clothes and went over to his house, where he was frantically gasping for breath. I didn't know what was going on, but he struggled to indicate something in a cupboard he pointed to. I found a puffer and he grasped for it. He then administered a couple of injections of the stuff and this eased the trauma. This was something I had never seen except with my brother-in-law who suffers from asthma. Tom after a cup of tea then told me the history of his lung disease. I remained with him until daylight and later that morning, a Sunday I took him to an emergency medical centre. The doctor put him on a machine and left him on it for twenty minutes. Whilst he was on this nebuliser, I was invited in to the treatment room, during which time I commented innocently enough on the effectiveness of the machine. The nurse replied that they were available at any reasonable chemist. Tom asked me when I was taking him home if we could find a chemist so that he could buy one. That was easier said and done. We visited several chemist's that morning and eventually were lucky down in South Palm Beach. There was nothing heroic about what I did and I certainly did not 'want to be' an executor. However Andrew Smyth although directed in the Will to make me co-executor, never wrote or contacted me. The issue was never discussed for the simple reason I knew nothing about it. I was somewhat puzzled to find that it was this that led to Tom Jowett telling me in the car on the way home from his solicitor that he had left me $20,000 in his Will. That was in August. The $20,000 was made to both my wife and myself as early as 14th June, two months previously. Apart from the verbal remark that Tom made in relation to this money, I was never aware that at any time that my wife and myself had featured in any Will. Toms comment 'that he did not like Bruce anymore', was triggered by my rejection of the offer he had authorised.
Anyone reading this account would ask themselves what was wrong with a man who changed his Will, virtually on a whim. To answer this goes outside the bounds of normal behaviour . We now examine the motives that produced them.
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