Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Battle for 'dead lef' - Corporate Area resident waiting 37 years for dad's estate

Published:Sunday | July 3, 2016 | 7:00 AMBarbara Gayle
One of the three properties which Malcolm Dymally’s father died and left for him, which he has been unable to get for the past 37 years.

The legal battle for Malcolm Dymally to get his father's estate, which includes three houses in the Kingston 10 area, began 37 years ago when he was only six years old and is not likely to end anytime soon.

"I am not certain when it is going to end as there are so many hurdles to overcome in the justice system," says Dymally, a 43-year-old airline transport licensed pilot.

Andrew Hamid Dymally, a retired insurance executive, died on June 4, 1979, and shortly after, Geta Dennis, his common-law wife, took all the necessary steps to protect the interest of their son, but she met many roadblocks.

"My mother went to several government agencies seeking help to protect my interest as a minor in relation to my father's estate, but they all failed to help," Dymally told The Sunday Gleaner.

"I have no vendetta or ill will in relation to the conundrum that has existed for the last 37 years, but I feel cheated out of justice because of the failure of government officials to act. I just want what is mine so I can move on with my life," he remarked.

Dymally said since he took up the case at age 22, he has solicited assistance and help from just about every government agency, but his efforts have so far been unsuccessful.

24 attorneys

He disclosed that he and his mother have, over the years, engaged the services of approximately 24 attorneys at different times in the case and have spent in excess of $20.5 million in legal fees.

In 2014, Dymally went to the Supreme Court and got an order declaring that he was the son of Andrew Hamid Dymally.

He explained that he "fought and fought" until in October last year, the Supreme Court granted him permission to apply for a grant of administration in his father's estate. He was also granted an order to bring a claim to protect the interest of the estate.

Justice Vinette Graham Allen, in granting the order, also revoked the grant of probate, which was issued on November 2, 1979.

Dymally says he is grateful to attorney-at-law Tamara Francis Riley-Dunn, who made the successful applications on his behalf. He said he and his lawyer are now working on the claim, which is to be filed soon.

The court order states that Dymally, "the claimant, is permitted to make an application to raise a grant of administration in the said estate of Andrew Hamid Dymally. Until the said grant of administration is obtained that the claimant is permitted at the date of this order to bring any claim for and on behalf of the said estate of Andrew Hamid Dymally to protect any of the assets of the estate".

The order further declared that the grant of probate issued in the estate of the deceased Dymally was revoked.

false will

Dymally explained that a will purporting to be made by his father was used to get a grant of probate in the estate in 1979, and Dymally said it took 36 years to have that order set aside despite the fact he and his mother had hired so many lawyers in the matter.

"I still have vivid memories of the day when as a child I came home from school to see my mother's belongings and my things on the sidewalk because of an eviction as a result of that false will," he said.

The dispute over the will was reported to the Fraud Squad, and Dymally exhibited a copy of the certificate from the handwriting expert dated May, 30, 1989, stating that the signature on the will was not that of his father.

He said his mother had to fight to get back into the house and they suffered abuse, false accusations, and humiliation because of the bogus will, leaving the estate to an individual who lived overseas.

According to Dymally, on one occasion, false charges were brought against them, but when he and his mother went to court, the case was thrown out.

"All those things could have been avoided if the State had just protected my entitlement as a child to my father's estate," he said.

Dymally said he wonders at times how many persons, including children, are facing similar problems to get what is rightfully theirs, including their inheritance.

Attorney-at-law Michael Lorne, in commenting on Dymally's case, said it should not have dragged on for such a long time. "This is a typical problem in Jamaica," said Lorne.

He explained that by law, the administrator general has the authority to protect the interest of a minor in estate matters, but he is worried that the department does not have the capacity to adequately administer the estates.