About children in Australian succession law, providing for children by will, who is a child?
What is the legal meaning of issue, remoter issue and similar terms in wills? Does it mean children? Are all descendants entitled to inherit in the same way? Find our more about this flexible term “issue” here.
Updated 29 November 2020 Testamentary freedom is being free to dispose of your property how and to whom you wish. The freedom of testamentary disposition is, as one Supreme Court judge said a “prominent feature of the Australian legal system. Its significance is both practical and symbolic and should not be underestimated.”1 Of course like …
Time limits apply under family provision law within which to contest or challenge a will. If this time has passed it is possible to apply to the Court for an extension, but whether it is granted will depend on the circumstances. In this case the application was unsuccessful, being some years out of time.
Image: Coat of Arms, Broken Hill Courthouse, NSW, by B Stead.
Many provisions in state and territory legislation on succession and wills allow for a willmaker to express a contrary intention in their will to override 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 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.
In a Queensland case a stepchild was left out of the will of a step-parent. He subsequently sought provision from his step-mother’s estate. She had no natural children of her own. Her husband, the applicant’s father, had pre-deceased her. The applicant was her only step-child. In another situation a claim was brought by seven step-children for adequate provision out of their deceased stepmother’s estate.
Updated 15 December 2020 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 …
When no will is left by a deceased person they are said to have died intestate. Dying intestate means no will is left setting out what is to be done with the deceased’s property. Who is entitled to take their estate?
Adult children who feel they have not been provided or left out of their parent’s will altogether, may wish to make a claim for provision out of 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.
Illegitimate children are those born outside of marriage, or out of wedlock, in older terminology. These days the word “illegitimate” has largely been replaced in law by the term “ex-nuptial” – nuptial referring to marriage. Either way, can an ex-nuptial child inherit from their natural parents? Or contest a natural parent’s will for provision out of their estate? What if no will was left?
To see the contents of a deceased person’s will can be difficult if you are not the executor. But in some states if you know who has the will, a copy, or other testamentary document, the law requires them to allow people who are entitled to have access, to inspect or see the will; and have a copy of it. Copying is at their own expense, but costs must be reasonable.
Why make a will and what can it do?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.
A will is a testamentary 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. It is where a person sets out their intentions for the distribution of their property when they die.
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 assesed on this money for income tax?
Per stirpes and per capita refer to the ways in which a person’s estate can be distributed among their descendants (issue). The point is to take into account any family who may have predeceased them.
Understanding how per stirpes and per capita work is important both in making a will and for legal representatives interpreting one.
Language can be confusing. The way that certain words are used in a will may cause difficulties in interpreting what the willmaker actually meant, but unfortunately may not come to light until they have passed away. Two such words are “children” and “issue”.