By: B Stead Keeping an original will safe and secure is one thing, (see storing a will), but as a practical matter, it is important to let executors know, or family or a trusted friend, of its whereabouts.
Illegitimate 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? More →
Left out of a will or seeking more – who can apply for provision?
Family provision laws were introduced to remedy situations where willmakers failed to leave adequate provision for the proper maintenance, support and advancement in life for close family, usually spouses, partners and children.
The legislation gives the court1 discretionary power to order provision from a deceased person’s estate, where found to be inadequate, to “eligible” applicants, under certain circumstances. It is not automatic.
What does the ‘residue’ or ‘to give the residue of my estate’ mean?
The residue of a deceased person’s estate is what is left over after the payment of all expenses in connection with the estate.
Expenses include payment of the funeral, costs incurred in the administration of the estate, payment of the deceased’s debts, the discharge of any liabilities of the deceased, and the distribution of any specific gifts made under their will.
The residue or residuary estate is property of the deceased not disposed of by the terms of their will.
A codicil is a document used to make minor changes to an existing will
A codicil is an additional document added or appended to an existing will for the purpose of making a minor change, amendment or alteration to that will. An example of a minor amendment is when someone wants to change their executor/s and/or trustee/s or appoint a new one.
As described already, codicil is a short document which may be used when only a minor change is required to a will. If the will was made a long time ago, it may be best to make a new will altogether so there is no inconsistencies. Seek professional advice.
This article looks at:
What is a codicil?
Making a legally valid codicil
Codicils must refer to the date on the correct will
Interpreters provide valuable services. Non-English speaking people or people who don’t have English as a first language may need the services of an interpreter or translator to help them understand in their language aspects of the will-making process. More →
Wills are important private and confidential documents. An original will should be stored in a safe and secure place after being signed and witnessed. Ideally the place should be fireproof and the like. Depending on the status of family relationships, if kept at home, it the document should be protected from tampering or destruction. And don’t forget to inform your executors where the will is located.
Probate law requires that the original will be attached to an application for a grant of probate from the court. Without it, the timely administration of the deceased’s estate is delayed until the situation is resolved. A summary of the usual approaches to storing a will follows.
Pets are family – arranging care for them when their carer dies
Who will look after me?
Cats, dogs and other pets are really family. So making arrangements for their welfare when their owner dies is worth doing to help relieve others of difficult decision making at a stressful time.
While the matter can be discussed and arranged informally among family or friends, this approach may not be for everyone. Alternatively a will is a useful and practical way to leave instructions for what you would like done with your much loved pets.
Updating a will might seem a troublesome chore, but circumstances can change from the time it was made. The changes might produce unintended and unwanted outcomes in the event of death. Therefore reviewing a will is important to keep its contents in line with intentions.
Regularly reviewing your will every few years or so, in light of changes in your life, is worth doing, as life events and matters such as those outlined below can affect a will. Everyone’s situation is different so in all cases seek professional legal advice from a solicitor providing services in this area.
A family tree is a record of information about family relationships. It is useful to have a basic outline of close family/next of kin relationships to keep with your personal papers. This maybe unnecessary you might think.
However a family tree can be helpful in preparing to make a will, especially where large, complex estates, blended families and business succession issues are involved. More →
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.
Joint tenancy and tenancy in common give different outcomes when an owner dies
Joint tenancy and tenancy in common are ways of owning property with others. Each works differently when an owner dies, see graphic below. This impacts who will inherit the deceased owner’s share. These graphics seek to highlight how each tenancy works.
In a joint tenancy, when one owner dies, the surviving one automatically owns the whole property. This happens independently of any will (and probate) because of the right of survivorship attaching to this tenancy type.
A will is a legal document, often referred to by lawyers as an ‘instrument’, setting out what a person intends to have happen to their property, (real and personal), and other matters, when they die. It is the legal way to record a person’s instructions and wishes on how they want their property distributed on the event of their death, and who is to responsible for carrying out those wishes. Because it is to take effect only on death, a will is referred to as being ‘testamentary’. A testamentary document or instrument is one which its writer intends, at the time of writing it, to come into effect when they die, and not before. More →
What property can be given or disposed of by will?
Generally all property (real and personal property) to which a person is entitled at the time they die can be disposed of or given away in a will. This is provided for by state and territory wills and succession statutes. More →
Per stirpes and per capita distribution of a deceased estate
Per stirpes and per capitaare 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 →
Many people own property with another person in a co-ownership arrangement. Spouses or partners typically own their residence together in joint names, family members; or friends may own a property together for investment.
An important issue to consider upfront when buying property are the consequences of when a co-owner dies. How the property is owned between people, that is, its tenancy, can give very different outcomes on death. Ideally these should be considered at the time of purchase.
Questions to ask include who can take a co-owner’s interest when they die? Would this be what they want to have happen? If not, can they state their intention in their will? Or is the property owned in a way that on death the interest automatically passes to the survivor/s outside of a will, as in joint tenancy? This article looks at tenancy issues. More →