Sons fight their father’s willComment on this story
Cape Town - The sons of a KwaZulu-Natal property developer who jumped to his death from Table Mountain two years ago are contesting his will.
They claimed Rob Taylor was not of sound mind when the “bizarre” document was drawn up leaving his entire estate to “all life forms… for the maintenance and advancement of life”.
Byron and Nathan Taylor have launched an application in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, asking that Taylor’s will, dated November 2, 2009, be declared null and void.
Alternatively, they want an instruction in the will to set up a trust to fall away.
Taylor’s sons, both university students, also want the court to declare them the only two heirs of their father and say they are entitled to inherit the residue of his estate. In January 2010 Rob Taylor made headline news when he handed over the keys to his R1.4 million Audi R8 sports car to two car guards working at the cable car station on Table Mountain. He asked the guards to protect his identity, but was revealed by journalists as the donor – although he declined to comment on the gesture.
The car guards later began collecting money for charity.
Almost a year later Taylor was back in Cape Town, and jumped from the viewing deck on the summit of Table Mountain in front of several other visitors.
Taylor, a chartered accountant, was the main shareholder of the Angels Way estate outside Eston, between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, and was responsible for the establishment of the “Amber” property development in Howick.
In 2006, he was at the controls of a rubberduck when 16-year-old Clinton Aupiais fell out of the boat as he made a turn. Clinton’s head hit the propeller and he drowned.
Originally Clinton’s father, Terrence Aupiais, was the executor of Taylor’s will, but after Clinton’s death Aupiais was replaced by Joanne Mayne.
In his affidavit, Byron Taylor claims his father suffered from guilt arising from Clinton’s death, which led to displays of “extraordinary generosity”.
“My brother, mother and I all know that my father was severely depressed and profoundly emotionally troubled as a result of the accident. My father became increasingly morbid, irrational and at times delusional.”
Byron said they believed Taylor had accrued a substantial estate.
However, after his death, an inventory of Taylor’s estate disclosed modest assets with a gross value of about R650 000.
One of the clauses in the will reads: “I give, devise, and bequeath my entire estate to a Trust to be formed, the beneficiaries of which shall ALL LIFE FORMS (sic). The purpose of this Trust is to provide for the maintenance and advancement of life.”
Taylor also bestowed full power and unfettered discretion to his trustee for the duration of the trust.
Byron said he believed the will had not been drawn up by a professional person.
“The document appears to be composed by my father himself. The overall impression is that the author of the document was unfamiliar with legal terminology,” Byron said.
Byron claimed the establishment of a trust whose beneficiaries were “all life forms” was so vague as to be meaningless.
He submitted that since the central and pivotal provisions of the will were meaningless and could not be implemented, the entire bequest envisaged by the document must fail.
“The will is a bizarre document, which given its contents and the background against which it was signed and executed, is not a valid will. The inescapable inference is that such a will was signed by my father at a time when he was not of sound mind.”
The case has been adjourned to August 25.