You do not have to have a will as the Succession Act (the Act) sets out what will happen to those persons without a will. If you wish to provide for those you love and care according to your wishes you must have a will. A will is one of the most important documents that you will ever sign. Having a will gives you the comfort of knowing the rewards of your life’s work will be managed and distributed according to your wishes (your estate).
“Whatever can happen at any time can happen today.”
― Seneca, On the Shortness of Life
In the case where a person had married, separated and lived in a defacto relationship the Act provides for the estate to be divided between the wife and defacto as agreed or as determined by the Court. Such situations in many cases lead to legal action that could have been easily avoided. If there are no eligible beneficiaries as set out in the Act, then the State is entitled to the whole of your estate.
What is a will for? A will is all about preservation of your Estate and to enable you to pass it on to the people you consider nearest and dearest. I often go to the Supreme Court representing clients regarding a will or lack of a will. In many cases these court cases are costly and would have been unnecessary, if there was a properly drafted will. In a recent case Daryl Hely left an estate worth $25 million. His non-lawyer daughter prepared his will which did not specify clearly how his estate was to be shared, leading to an unnecessary legal battle. The Court had to interpret the will to enable the distribution of the estate.
Another important aspect is family relationships. It is often the case where a will is badly drafted or absent that families contest their right to the estate. Unfortunately, I have been involved in such cases where members go to court fighting each other, destroying relationships over money. If there had been a properly drafted will this would not have occurred.
As a family lawyer when drafting a will I always ensure that I know the family history and your wishes to minimise such family disruption.
I cannot emphasise the importance of having a will. I have outlined what I consider the major issues. If you care about your family, it is a necessity. Please contact me if you have any questions or I can assist in ensuring your estate is distributed according to your wishes.
Have a wonderful day,