It never ceases to amaze me…
On one hand, people work so hard – and invest so much time in working hard all their life – to secure a decent future and provide for their family. So often, we see people prepared to spend countless hours researching what is the best rental property to buy or analysing what shares might be worth investing in. How many of us work ridiculous hours, and stretch ourselves to the limits physically and financially, so if anything happened, our family would be financially provided for.
In all of this – if this is you – make sure you are not missing one essential step: Having in place a will which clearly spells out how you want your assets to be distributed.
It’s simple, really.
Not having a will is like owning a luxury boat but not having anyone at the wheel to steer it home in a storm.
A recent court case has illustrated how important it is to have a will – one that is properly prepared.
The man at the centre of the case was a farmer in Australia with a number of properties in his portfolio. He was a divorced fellow with five adult children and although he previously had a will in place, he knew he needed a new will after his divorce.
Despite having assets in excess of a million dollars, he decided to buy a will kit and prepare it himself.
The will left his entire estate to “my ex wife who will distribute it to my children as she sees fit”.
But what does that mean?
Does she have to distribute the estate to the children? Is it discretionary? Can she actually keep the estate?
Well, according to his ex-wife, it meant she could keep the estate and use her discretion not to give anything to the children.
To make matters worse, the executor, being one of the children, sided with his mother and supported the estate being gifted to his mother.
That meant the other children were then forced to make a costly application to the Supreme Court to seek an order to replace the executor and to interpret the will.
It was a bitter hearing, and in the end the court decided that the intention of the will was for the estate to go to the children.
A court case, a feud within the family and all the unnecessary hurt would have been the last thing the man would have expected – and certainly not what he’d have wanted.
He had faith his ex-wife would honour his wishes. But the wording wasn’t clear.
Had he just spent a few hundred dollars (which is nothing, really, when you think about the alternative), to have his will prepared by an experienced solicitor, this wouldn’t have happened.
We all want to leave a legacy – but his is now a family torn apart – and court action that pitted a mother and son against the rest of the family.
Make sure your will is sorted. Don’t take shortcuts.
If you don’t already have a will or it needs updating then take action now. Don’t put it off any longer – no one is guaranteed a long life. Parker Law QLD can assist you with preparing a will. Call us on 0437 557 603.
This article is general in nature and cannot be regarded as legal advice. It is general commentary only. You should not rely on the contents of this article without consulting one of our lawyers. If you would like advice regarding how the law applies to your particular circumstances, then please contact us.