KJSbwA recent decision of the Western Australian Supreme Court was a timely reminder of the need to be specific when making a Will.

The deceased was a wealthy grazier who died leaving a number of farms and a significant number of Murray Grey cattle.

In his Will he made a provision gifting a farm to a particular person.  The Will went on to say that the gift of land included all farming plant and machinery on that land.

The issue before the Court was whether the cattle that were normally grazed on that land were included in the gift or putting it in another way, whether cattle came within the accepted meaning of “plant and machinery”.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Court held that the cattle did not come within the gift.

The Court did not find a definition for the phrase “plant and machinery” but found that extending the words to cover livestock would be beyond the natural meaning of the term particularly when, in the particular case, there was no evidence that the deceased intended to provide the beneficiary with a “working farm”.

The lesson is that in providing instructions to your solicitor to prepare your Wills, you need to be very specific about what you require.  For instance, in a farming context, if the intention is to give a beneficiary a working farm you need to consider everything that is required for the operation of the farm. This will generally include machinery, stock and perhaps particular water entitlements. You also need to factor in that quite often these “operating” type assets of a farm may actually be held through a different structure such as a partnership or company. Failure to be specific could easily result in your intentions not being carried into effect.

At Everingham Solomons, we have the expertise and experience to assist you with all your estate planning matters whether involving farms or any other type of business because Helping You is Our Business.

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