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 …
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.
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 …
Personal things can have great sentimental value and depending what they are possibly significant commercial value. It is helpful to leave instructions as to what they are and who you would like to have them. Read more on personal items and succession law >>
personal items, belongings or effects and similar expressions are often used by willmakers to leave instructions on what they want done with such things after they die. Those responsible with this are the people the willmaker has personally appointed and named in their will to represent them, their personal representatives or legal personal representatives.
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.
Finding a mistake or error in the will of the deceased can cause extra difficulties in sorting it out. Many couples wish to leave their estates to each other when they die, and then to their children. They usually nominate the same people to act as their executors and trustees, typically each other, and one or more of their children may be appointed as substitutes.
Sometimes a clerical error or some other aspect about a deceased’s will means that practically speaking what the deceased intended doesn’t work out. Fortunately all is not lost. Succession legislation provisions give the Court a power to rectify the will to give effect to the deceased’s intentions if the Court is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the will does not. An application to the Court for a rectification order must be made within twelve months in NSW. An extension of time may be possible in special circumstances and if the estate has not been distributed. For an application to succeed there must be clear and convincing proof.