Inadequate provision for deceased’s children under the rules of intestacy – Lesley McDonnell

LAMThe deceased died in 2016 without leaving a Will. The deceased was survived by his estranged second wife, his ex-wife, and his two children, Thomas and William aged 19 and 16 respectively. The value of the deceased’s distributable estate was just over $430,000. At the time of his death, the deceased and his second wife had been separated for several years with the Court noting “There can be little doubt…the marriage had irretrievably broken down”. As the deceased died intestate (without leaving a Will) the deceased’s estate was distributed “not according to the wishes of the deceased as expressed in a Will, but according to a regime established by statute”.… Read More

Be specific when making your Will – Ken Sorrenson

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”.… Read More

Forfeiture of inheritance from deceased brother’s estate – Lesley McDonnell

In 2008 the deceased died at the hands of one of her two sons. In 2012, son Brent was tried and convicted before the Supreme Court of Western Australia for the murder of his mother. In 2014 this family was again touched by sadness when Brent’s brother and only other child of the deceased, Adrian passed away.  Adrian died without leaving a Will which meant his estate would be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. In 2016 a grant of letters of administration of Adrian’s estate was made to the Public Trustee (WA).

The Public Trustee (WA) made an application for direction from the Court as to how to distribute the part of Adrian’s estate which was made up of inheritance from his deceased mother’s estate.… Read More

Unsent Text Message upheld as a Will

LAMIncreasingly people live their lives through their mobile phones. In 2016 tragically a man took his own life but he left an unsent text message on his mobile phone recording his last wishes. A friend of the deceased accessed the phone after he died to look through the contact list to determine who should be informed of the deceased’s death. The friend discovered the unsent text message which stated that the deceased’s brother and nephew should “keep all that I have house and superannuation, put my ashes in the back garden”.

 A family feud erupted over the status of the unsent text message left by the deceased.… Read More

With trust comes responsibility – Lesley McDonnell

LAMAn Attorney acting pursuant to a Power of Attorney is required to comply with any and all conditions and limitations of the Power of Attorney instrument. A failure to do so, can result in the Attorney’s actions being declared unauthorised which in turn can lead to unintended consequences as the following case illustrates.

The deceased died in 2008. By her Will, the deceased gifted her interest in some real estate to her daughter. Some years before her death in 2002, the deceased had granted an enduring Power of Attorney to her son. In 2006 the deceased’s son signed paperwork as Power of Attorney for the deceased to sell the parcel of real estate that was the subject of a gift in the deceased’s Will.… Read More

Be Careful What You Promise – Lesley McDonnell

LAMThe deceased married Carol in 1988. They separated in 2008 and were divorced in 2011. On the day of their divorce, the deceased and Carol entered a Contract concerning their financial affairs. The Contract was expressed to be in consideration of each of the deceased and Carol settling disputes arising out of their matrimonial affairs. Under the Contract, the deceased agreed to provide that on his death one half of his interest in a hotel business (now valued at some $4.5 million) would be gifted to their 2 daughters, Diane and Suzanne.

In 2014, 11 days before he died, the deceased made a Will which provided in effect, that his interest in the hotel business would be divided equally between his four daughters, but only at the “Termination Date”.… Read More

Claims by adult children in contested Wills – George Hoddle

GRHAs a child of the deceased, a daughter or son of the deceased is deemed to be a person eligible to bring a claim under the Succession Act which allows for eligible people to make an application to vary the Will. In NSW a claim must be made within 12 months of the date of death.

There is an emerging predisposition on the part of Judges of the Supreme Court that adult children bringing a claim for further additional benefits from the Estate, which their claims may be dismissed entirely or otherwise the provision made for them will be made in a paltry amount.… Read More

Gifting a mess to your family when you die – Lesley McDonnell

LAMIn 2015 the deceased died suddenly at the age of 55 without leaving a Will. The deceased was survived by three siblings. The applicant claimed that at the time of his death, she had been in a continuous 12-year de facto relationship with him. Pursuant to the rules of intestacy, the deceased’s surviving siblings would be entitled to the whole of his estate, unless the applicant could establish that she was the deceased’s de facto spouse.

The Court needed to determine whether the applicant was a “spouse” of the deceased as defined under legislation. The applicant claimed she was in a de facto relationship with the deceased that “has been in existence for a continuous period for at least two years” at his death.… Read More

What is Probate and when do I need it? – Natasha Wood

NKW-booksA Grant of Probate is a document issued by the Supreme Court that acknowledges the validity of the deceased’s Will and authorises the Executor/s to administer the Estate.

Whether or not Probate is required depends on the nature and value of the deceased’s assets.

If the deceased held land in their sole name or as a Tenants In Common with another, Probate will be required.

Financial institutions, superannuation funds and share registries may also require Probate for larger investments before they will allow those assets to be dealt with. Generally they will require Probate if the amount held with them is greater than $30,000.… Read More

Power of Attorney – Natasha Wood

NKW-booksIf your circumstances suddenly changed and you could no longer manage your own affairs, do you have the necessary documentation in place to authorise another person to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf?

If you don’t then you ought to consider making a Power of Attorney.

A Power of Attorney is a document which allows you to appoint someone to manage your financial and legal affairs. For example it empowers your Attorney to manage your assets and operate your bank accounts.

The document may be structured in many different ways so that it is tailored to suit your needs, for example:

  • You may appoint more than one person.
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