Legal Hypothetical: Cheap will costs thousands


Cheap will costs thousands

JOE is married to Jenny and has two children from a previous marriage.

Joe buys a will kit from the local Post Office for $20.

Being a man of few words, Joe simply writes “I give my children enough money for a deposit on a house and everything else to my wife Jenny”.

He then signs his will and Jenny witnesses his signature.

Jenny asks him if he would like her solicitor to take a look at his will to make sure that it is all okay.

Joe tells her that it would just be a waste of money.

Years later, Joe passes-away.

He has some cash in the bank and owns a property with Jenny as tenants in common.

His estate is worth $500,000.

Jenny’s solicitor advises her that she is going to need a Grant of Probate to administer Joe’s estate but because the will was witnessed by her, a named beneficiary, her entitlement is void unless the Court is satisfied that Joe ‘knew and approved’ the contents of the will and that it was made ‘freely and voluntarily’.

Jenny is further advised that because the execution of the will was not witnessed by two ‘not interested’ witnesses, the Court will require evidence of the circumstances surrounding the execution of the will and of Joe’s intentions.

This is a problem because there are no corroborating witnesses.

To complicate matters, Joe’s children are advised that their entitlement under the will is not ‘sufficiently certain’, so they commence a Family Provision Application to protect their rights.

Had Joe listened to Jenny and sought advice regarding his will, his loved ones would have saved thousands of dollars in legal fees and avoided the delays and stress in what could have been a straightforward administration.

Thank you to Jamie Visco for his assistance with this column.

If YOU would like a particular issue addressed, please email Manny at [email protected] or call him on (02) 6648 7487.

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