MP backs sister in feud over mother's estate

TONY WALL
Last updated 05:00 02/12/2012
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ON 'GARDENING LEAVE': Winston Peters has sent NZ First list MP Brendan Horan home to order his house.

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The sister of New Zealand First MP Brendan Horan tried to take over their mother's affairs three months before she died, on the grounds that she needed a major operation and her memory was failing.

But Olwen Horan, 87, resisted the attempt, revoking power of attorney from her daughter, Marilyn Bleackley, and obtaining a medical certificate to prove she could administer her own affairs.

The moves were all part of a power struggle within the Horan family as Olwen Horan, a million-dollar lottery winner, died slowly and painfully of cancer.

Brendan Horan, who was last week sent on "gardening leave" by party leader Winston Peters to sort the matter out, backs his sister.

"She was doing a great job," he said.

Their half-brothers, Mana Ormsby and Peter Horan, the other two main beneficiaries of the will, are concerned that large sums of money went missing from their mother's accounts.

Mana Ormsby said he would lay a complaint with police once a forensic report into the accounts is complete.

Brendan Horan is threatening to sue family members who have made allegations against him.

Marilyn Bleackley told the Star-Times last week she had power of attorney for only 10 days.

The newspaper has learned that her mother first granted it to her in 2007, and in May this year, Bleackley declared that she was enacting her powers because of her mother's failing health and memory.

But other members of the family said there was nothing wrong with her memory or mental state. It is understood she did not undergo the major operation Bleackley referred to.

After she revoked power of attorney from Bleackley, Olwen Horan made her nephew, John Buckthought, her executor and trustee.

Concerned about unexplained expenditure, she asked Ormsby to help Buckthought go through her bank statements.

On July 2, a month before she died, she signed a codicil, or amendment, to her will, authorising Buckthought to "recover monies by any lawful means from my daughter, Marilyn Bleackley, and son, Brendan Horan, which has been either loaned to them by me, or taken from me by misadventure".

She said that if the money had not been recouped by the time of her death, then the duo's shares in her estate should be adjusted to take into account "any such funds received by them over the last 10 years".

It is alleged that when she died, Olwen Horan's current account contained less than $3000, down from $259,000 in 2007.

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Suggestions from one family source that she "spent like a trooper" in the years before she died have been strenuously denied by others, who said she was frugal.

It is alleged there are unexplained cash withdrawals and a number of cheque transactions are also being looked into.

Buckthought, a Mt Maunganui car dealer in his 60s, declined to comment last week, other than to say he had never accused anyone of taking money.

Brendan Horan has confirmed that he was paying off a loan from his mother, but only $350 was outstanding when she died.

He confirmed his lawyers now had the bank statements, and were going over them.

"I'm looking for some sanity in all of this."

Peters has consistently refused to express confidence in his MP and has not ruled out forcing Horan to quit the party. He emphasised that no evidence had been supplied, despite repeated requests.

"The person who made the allegation had a duty to give me the information, but he hasn't. I was promised the moment probate was finished and granted by the court I'd be given the information."

Initially Peters said he wanted the matter sorted out urgently, but now says the forensic examination will be a "lengthy exercise".

Ormsby says he never kept copies of the bank statements, and they were all sent to the Auckland lawyer for his mother's estate, Mark Hornabrook. Hornabrook declined to comment.

- Sunday Star Times

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