Legal Hypothetical: Planes, trains and automobiles

DAVID decides to update his will. He nominates his four children, Levi, Kate, Charlie, and Billy as executors.

However, his solicitor advises David to consider reducing the number of executors as the children are interstate and overseas, which may make it difficult to administer the estate.

David follows the solicitor’s advice and chooses his daughter Kate as the sole executor with Billy as the substitute.

Over Christmas dinner, David informs his children of his decision regarding his will. His choice of executors creates tension and hostility in the family.

As a result, David instructs his solicitor to include all four children as executors and he signs his will.

David dies a few years later.

His children all fly-in for his funeral.

After David’s funeral, the children instruct David’s solicitor to apply for a grant of probate.

The solicitor explains that they can renounce as an executor, to make it easier to administer the estate, but all the children insist on acting.

The grant for probate is prepared and sent to Levi in Singapore.

However, Levi’s authorised witness fails to sign the annexures, prompting the solicitor to re-send the application back to Singapore to be re-signed.

Kate was on a cross-continental train journey when the grant was posted to her in far west Queensland.

She took an eternity to get the documents signed, causing further delays.

Charlie then received the application and asked his mate, Johnno to sign as the witness.

This invalidated the documents and the process had to begin again with Levi.

In the meantime, Billy had banked on receiving his inheritance and was now in dire financial difficulty with his car loan.

Eleven months had passed, and the documents were still not lodged with the Court.

This situation highlights the challenges that can arise when executors are spread far and wide.

It also emphasises the importance of considering practicalities and seeking legal advice before making decisions about the administration of your estate.

Thank you to Anthony Fogarty for his assistance with this column.

Email Manny Wood, principal solicitor at TB Law at or call him on (02) 66 487 487.

By Manny WOOD, Solicitor

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