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Siblings fight over lottery jackpot

Apr 19, 2011, 6:30 am

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Father died day after winning

The family of an Australian man who won almost $2 million in a lottery and died the next day has been fighting over who is entitled to the money.

Townsville Supreme Court has heard the fighting between Lajos Szanto's four children occurred over the wording of their father's will and whether or not he had bought the ticket for himself.

Lajos Szanto won $1,818,181.82 on February 13 last year, but was not able to enjoy his winnings after he died a day later, having bought the ticket earlier in the week.

His son Alexander Szanto last week took his siblings to court to determine whether he was entitled to share the money with brother Stephen Szanto and sister Margie Szanto, or whether the prize would go entirely to his sister Christina Aston and brother-in-law James Aston, who owned the home their father was living in.

The trial came as another unresolved dispute between the siblings goes through the courts to determine whether Lajos Szanto bought the ticket for himself or to share with son Stephen as well.

In the latest trial, Justice Kerry Cullinane had to determine what the ticket, which was found in Lajos Szanto's granny flat under the family's Townsville home, in far north Queensland, was defined as under the man's will.

One clause entitled "all furniture and chattels" in the home were to go to daughter Christina and her husband.

However, the next clause in the will said "the rest and residue of my estate both real and personal of whatsoever nature of any kind" was to go to his other three children to be shared equally.

The court heard of 11 previous cases before the judge reached a decision.

Justice Cullinane decided the prize money did not fall within the first clause and was deemed to be part of Lajos Szanto's "residual estate", meaning it was to be inherited equally by Alexander, Stephen and Margie Szanto.

However, the family feud is still not over, with the courts yet to decide on the separate matter of whether Lajos Szanto bought the ticket with the intention to share it with Stephen Szanto.

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