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?
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.
The word “issue” is a legal term meaning all of a person’s descendants; not just their children. It is easy to overlook this and the potential unwanted consequences for what is intended, if not used correctly when working out wording in a will.
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.
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”.