Inheritance in domestic relationships and stepchildren
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.
A codicil is a short, additional document used to make minor changes, amendments or alterations to an existing will. To be legally valid the codicil document must be signed and executed in front of witnesses in the same way as for a will. Once completed the codicil is kept with that will. More than one codicil may be made. Unless the change is minor and straightforward it is preferable to make a new will.
‘Codicil’ comes from Latin meaning a letter or note. It was also referred to as a ‘little book’ in 17th century England. But the idea of making a testamentary addition began in the ancient Roman civil law. Later in early English law it started being used in situations where a testator didn’t have time to make a proper solemnised will and testament.
Together with the will document a codicil also being a testamentary document only operates when you die.
Codicil to an existing will or make a new will?
A codicil can be a cost-effective way to make a minor change to a will. such as substituting an executor. However if the will was made a long time ago, it may be best to make a new will altogether so there is no inconsistencies. Lawyers tend to prefer that a new will is made so as to avoid potential difficulties down the track with interpretation and the extra costs and delay that arise in resolving them. 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
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.