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Wills, deceased estates, succession & inheritance,

Testamentary freedom and family provision in Australia

testamentary freedom in Australia, freedom of testation, family law,

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.

Signing the wrong will by mistake

mistakenly wrong will, signing a will, mirror wills, reciprocal wills, mistake, error, will-making 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.

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Signing a will, having it witnessed & witnesses

WitnessThe legal formalities to make a valid will require the will-maker to sign their will in the presence of at least two people, acting as formal witnesses to the event.
Signing a will in front of witnesses fulfils a protective function. Can anyone witness or attest the signing of a will? And what must they do?  Read more >>

Residue of a deceased estate – what is it?

residue, deceased estate, wills, making a will, administration, probate The residue of a deceased person’s estate is basically what is left over after the payment all costs in connection with the estate. That is, payment of funeral expenses, costs incurred in the administration of the estate, payment of the deceased’s debts, discharge of any liabilities and the distribution of any specific gifts made under the will.

Codicil to a will – making minor changes

Sydney Harbour SunsetA codicil is a short additional document, typically one or two pages, used to make a minor alteration to an existing will. Both the will and the codicil documents together form the “will” of the person.  To be legally valid the codicil document must be signed and executed in front of witnesses in the same way as for a will. 

A codicil is a convenient way to change an executor or trustee named in a will.  For example in a situation where someone appointed as an executor has died a codicil can be used to replace them with someone else who is willing to act when the time comes. Read more.

Storing a will – ensure it is safe and secure

storing a will, will storage, safe custody for a will, willmaking, deceased estate, Wills are important private and confidential documents. An original will should be stored in a safe and secure place after being signed and witnessed. Once all the formalities have been completed and it has been copied, the original will then needs to be kept in a safe and secure place.

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Glen Innes Courthouse 1873, NSW

early Australian Courthouses, old Australian Courthouses, Australian legal history

Glen Innes Courthouse, Australian Courthouses, Australian legal history, early Australian courthousesGlen Innes Courthouse 1873 is the design work of James Barnet, built in local stone. The Courthouse is still operational as a local court in New South Wales, and previously a Mining Warden’s Court.  The locality of Glen Innes is of Scottish heritage.

Gortyn laws – ancient inheritance laws etched in stone

Gortyn, Crete, Greece, Gortyn Law inscriptions, stone

Inheritance and intergenerational transfer of property has concerned families and civilisations for centuries.  Inheritance laws of the ancient city of Gortyn (Gortys), Crete were inscribed on stone in a public place in the fifth century.  The Law Code of Gortyn is a written set of rules prescribing who inherits, among other private matters, so as to keep property in the male side of family.

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Who can see the will of a deceased person & can you obtain a copy?

 

wills, probate, deceased estate, copy of someone's 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.

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Dying intestate – when there is no will left or an invalid one

intestate, no will, will-making, make a willIntestate 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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Who can make a will?

 

Who can make a will to dispose of their property? Who can make a will? To make a will a person must be an adult and have the required mental capacity.

A will made by a minor, being under 18, is generally invalid under State and Territory wills and succession legislation.

Exceptions relate to contemplation of marriage, or altering or cancelling a prior will. If the contemplated marriage does not take place, the will is invalid. The court may authorise a minor to make, alter or cancel a will.

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Youth allowance, super death benefits & tax

youth allowance, super death benefits, taxation, tax, deceased estateIn ID 2014/6 the ATO addressed the question of whether the adult child was dependent on the parent at the time the parent died for the purposes of being a death benefit dependant. Losing a parent in these circumstances is particularly devastating. If the young person receives superannuation death benefits from their parent’s superannuation fund, would they be assessed on this money for income tax?

When disposing property by will check the ownership – what can and can’t be disposed of by will

Property ownership, will making, company shares, units, trust,Disposing property by will, in the will-making process requires considerations to be given to what you own in your individual name, as opposed to what you might control, see further below. As only property owned in a personal or individual name can form a deceased estate, it is only this which can be transferred by will, (or the rules of intestacy).

Among the first considerations in making a will is considering what we own. Only property owned personally can form a deceased estate and be disposed of by will, but it is easy to overlook that property thought of as ‘ours’, is legally in another name. It pays to check who owns what, that which is not in your own name, is not yours to give by will.

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Frequent flyer points – do they pass away with us?

IMG_4056-plane-resizedWith cheap air fares and so much air travel these days, what happens to our frequent flyer points when we die? Can they be transferred? Generally no, but there are some variations, check your program’s terms and conditions to be sure.