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?
An early inheritance of a mortgage-free home was given to the younger daughter at the time of her marriage. It was well understood by all family members at the time that the other older daughter would receive her inheritance when the last parent died. However things didn’t go to plan.
Testamentary freedom is being free to dispose of your property how and to whom you wish. One Supreme Court judge said that this freedom of testamentary disposition is a “prominent feature of the Australian legal system. Its significance is both practical and symbolic and should not be underestimated.”1
Of course like all freedoms it should be used reasonably.
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.
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.
Estranged daughter An estranged daughter contested her mother’s will. She and her sister were the only children of the deceased.1 Contesting the will of a parent is highly emotional, stressful and damaging to family relations. As observed by the Supreme Court of New South Wales: The case provides yet another example of the high level …
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?
In succession law the court has discretionary power under family provision legislation to order provision from a deceased person’s estate to “eligible” applicants and in certain circumstances. It is not automatic.
The legal rules were introduced to remedy situations where willmakers failed to leave adequate provision for close family and certain other dependents as defined. It is not for second bites at the cherry. The court has wide power in deciding who pays costs of proceedings.
To see the contents of a deceased person’s will can be difficult. But in some states if you know who has the will, a copy, or other testamentary document, the law requires them to allow certain categories of people who are entitled under the law, to have access. If you are within one of these categories you are entitled to inspect or see the will; and obtain a copy of it. Copying is at your expense, but the costs must be reasonable.
Intestate means dying without a will. But sometimes even if a person has left a will there may be a partial intestacy. This is when the will does not effectively dispose of all of their property. If that happens the identified property falls into the residue of the estate and distributed according to what the person’s will states about disposal of the residue, and if silent, then according to the statutory intestacy rules.
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In general terms, 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.