A home made will is one prepared by the willmaker themselves. Maybe using a “will kit” or something found online or a digital recording. However made a home-made will is composed without the services of a lawyer and the benefit of individual legal advice. This may seem an economical and convenient approach to will-making. While …
Wills and estates
General information and insights on the law on wills, will-making, deceased estates in Australia.
An outline of a how a gift over works in a will. A gift over in a will is when the person designated to receive it has died, the gift then passes over to a substitute person, if so named to take.The substitute beneficiary only inherits if the main beneficiary has already died, not survived the deceased or died before attaining a vested interest.
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.
Probate applications require production of the original will. But what if the original can’t be found? In certain circumstances a Court will recognise a lost will and admit a copy of it to probate.
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.
Normally under Australian succession law marriage cancels a will (that is revokes the will) – unless the will was made in contemplation of marriage. In some states and the ACT testamentary arrangements can be made in contemplation of entering into a registered relationship or partnership.
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.
“The range of “risks” to which a will maker, his or her property, interested parties or members of the legal profession may be subject is probably infinite in its dimensions. Risk cannot be eliminated from life, or, it seems, from death.“ The Hon Justice Lindsay, Equity Division, Supreme Court of New South Wales, Seminar presentation …
The meaning of words and phrases used by a will-maker when leaving a specific gift may adequately express their intentions, at least to them at the time. However sometimes matters connected with the gift may arise down the track during administration of the estate, raising questions of interpretation.
Sometimes an unsigned will is left in situations where the willmaker, in consultation with lawyers, has been in the process of making a new will, but died before the requirements to make a valid legal document were completed. Why an unsigned will? Leaving such a testamentary document raises important questions. Did the deceased approve of …
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.
Elder abuse can take different forms. It can range across financial, psychological, physical and emotional neglect causing harm and distress to the older person. It may be intentional or not. Critical issues having potential to generate abuse of older ones involve legal capacity, and undue influence in entering into guarantees for family members and others, and reverse mortgages. Carers misusing their influence is another area. Financial abuse can surface in various ways, one in particular is placing pressure on an older person to make or change their will.
Why sever a joint tenancy? Severing a joint tenancy is relevant to joint co-owners passing on their property interests to their chosen descendants. Owning property with others in co-ownership can be either as joint tenants or tenants in common. The consequences of who inherits a co-owner’s share on death are different. It is important to …
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 …
Missing wills or a lost will seem to be more common than one would think. Some people store important personal documents in unusual places without informing their executor where. Here are some suggestions on next steps after a thorough search has not been successful.