“Contrary intention” in succession law and will-making

Broken Hill Courthouse - Coat of Arms, early Australian courthouses, Australian legal history, Australian Colonial courthouses,contrary intention

Contrary intention are words used in Australian succession legislation on wills and the administration of deceased estates. Some examples are given below of the range of matters where the law allows for a willmaker to express a contrary intention in their will to the statutory rule.

Where a provision of succession legislation contains these words, it means that the statutory rule can be displaced, that is not apply in the administration of their estate, if a willmaker has expressed a different intention on the matter in their will as to what they want to have happen.  A contrary intention may be expressed in a will or appear in a will.


Meaning of stepchild when contesting a will

Inheritance in domestic relationships and stepchildren

stepchild, family provision, testator's family maintenance, A stepchild’s eligibility under the statutory rules for seeking provision from a step-parent’s deceased estate can be difficult.

In a Victorian case1 the executor of a deceased estate applied to the Supreme Court to have a claim for family provision dismissed.

The claim was brought by the adult daughter of the deceased’s former domestic partner, who had died some years before.  She had been left out of his will, despite assurances and promises to the contrary. The deceased had left everything to his new domestic partner.


Stepchild contesting a step-parent’s will – Queensland

stepchild, willshub, step-parent, family provision,When a stepchild has been left out of the will of a deceased step-parent

In a Queensland case1 a stepchild sought provision out of the estate of his step-mother, a widow.  Her husband, and the applicant’s father had pre-deceased her. She had no children of her own, that is no natural children, so no descendants: only the applicant her step-child, and he was an only child.

Before the applicant’s father died, he and his wife each made wills in similar terms.  Basically these were all to each other, then on the first to die, in equal proportions to the the applicant and a nephew.


Estranged child left out of a will – claiming family provision

An estranged daughter, one of two sisters and the only children of their deceased mother, were engaged in legal proceedings in a contest over their mother’s deceased estate.1 In The Supreme Court of New South Wales, it was said that

The case provides yet another example of the high level of emotion that is generated in relation to the distribution of the property of a parent, particularly in circumstances where there is said to have been an estrangement between the Plaintiff and the deceased for some years prior to the death of the deceased.


Step-grandchildren described as “descendants” and “children”- can they inherit?

Step-grandchildren, will-making, descendants, childrenSome grandparents like to leave something to their grandchildren in their will.  If they have step-grandchildren as well, as is increasingly likely these days, are they to be included in the will too?

If grandparents intend step-grandchildren in their extended family to benefit under their will, then to assist their executors for the efficient administration of their estate, it would be helpful if they could make that clear in their will, as a recent New South Wales case has highlighted.


When no will is left

When no will is left by a deceased person they are said to have died intestateDying intestate means that their property and things are distributed according to the legal rules on intestacy made by the Parliament in the state or territory where they lived.  Sometimes a person may have left a will, but for some reason a problem arises so that not all of the property can be disposed of.


Issue and children – some issues with words

We make a will so as to provide for our loved ones; to be able to choose who will inherit our property.  But writing down our intentions so that they are clear and unambiguous for others when we are no longer around, is not easy.   For example take the words “issue” and “children”. The word “issue” is a legal term meaning all of a person’s descendants; not just their children.


Adult children claiming provision from their parent’s estate – some things to consider

By B Stead

family provision, adult children, estrangement, equality, estate claimAdult children who feel they have not been provided for or left out of their parent’s will, may wish to make a claim from their deceased parent’s estate. Children of a deceased parent are eligible under family provision or testator’s family maintenance legislation to apply to the Court for an order for provision out of their deceased parent’s estate.  More

Illegitimate children, ex-nuptial children – can they inherit?

illegitimate children, ex-nuptial children, contest a will, challenge a will, inheritance, inherit, what is an exnuptial childIllegitimate children or ex-nuptial children are those born outside of marriage. Changes to the law mean that the inheritance rights of illegitimate children are equal to those of legitimate children.  So this means they can inherit. What happens if no will was left, (an intestacy) either by an ex-nuptial child or their parent? Who inherits then? Can an ex-nuptial or illegitimate child be eligible under succession law to make a claim on a deceased parent’s estate?

Who can see the will of a deceased person & can you have a copy?

To see the will, view it or obtain access to the will of a deceased person

see the will, wills, probate, deceased estate, copy of someone's will, WillsHubTo see the will of a deceased person can be difficult when you are not the executor or administrator.  However in some states changes to the legislation on wills and succession has made this easier by making it clear the category of persons who are entitled to see or inspect the will of a deceased person.


Why make a will and what can a will do?


By: B Stead

Why make a will and what can it do?

Dying without leaving a will, or leaving an invalid one, is to die intestate.   Dying intestate means property left (the estate) is distributed according to the intestacy law.  The intestacy law has been prescribed by legislation as the ‘default’ rules to apply in these circumstances. The problem is that the intestacy formula for distribution may not produce the desired outcome.


Youth allowance, super death benefits & tax

By B Stead

Living at home on Youth Allowance when a parent dies – superannuation death benefits and income tax.

StudentMany young adults live at home while they study, work and train in preparation for their future. For some, Youth Allowance payments (see below) may go some way in paying bills, but there is still heavy reliance on parental financial assistance.

Losing a parent in these circumstances is particularly devastating.  If the young person receives superannuation death benefits from their parent’s superannuation fund, would they be assessed on this money for income tax?


Per stirpes, per capita and deceased estate distribution

Per stirpes and per capita distribution of a deceased estate

Per stirpes and per capita are Latin terms referring to the ways in which a person’s estate can be distributed among their descendants, their children, grandchildren and so on.  A person’s descendants are often referred to as “issue” in succession and inheritance law. As the term ‘issue’ refers to more family than just ‘children’ this can lead to confusion when interpreting what a will-maker intended.   For more see this article on using the words “issue” and “children” in wills.

Per stirpes and per capita are different ways of distributing property among a group or class of people, either under a will or when there isn’t one. They address the situation where one or more family descendants of a person have predeceased them. Per stirpes means ‘by the stocks, roots or branch” and per capita means ‘by the head’, by each individual person in equal shares. More

Issue and children in wills – say what you mean

“Issue” is a legal word often used in wills regarding estate distribution

Language can be confusing. Words like ‘issue’ and ‘children’, may be thought of in one way by some, but be interpreted differently by others, see graphic.

Meaning of issue, meaning of issue of parents, issue and children in wills, next-of-kin, inheritance, succession, legal definition, meaning of the word 'issue'They have the potential to generate different interpretations and outcomes.

The problems may not arise until the will-maker has passed away; leaving the question what did they really mean?  This article is about the meaning of issue in wills.