It seems that a lot of lawyers could make a decent living if their only work was sorting out home-made will problems.

Yet another one has played out in the Supreme Court. The Will maker was 13 years into a de facto relationship who he married shortly after making the Will. He had little contact with the children from an earlier relationship.

His Will named his de facto as executor. In the section dealing with the giving of the residue of his estate, after the words “I direct my Executor(s) to pay all my debts and then give the residue of my estate to” he wrote “SAME”. The contest was between his de facto who contended that this meant that he intended his estate to go to her, and some of the children from his earlier relationship who contended that this was not sufficiently certain and that the estate should be distributed as though he was intestate (as a result of which his children would share in it and the amount going to the de facto would be reduced).

The de facto wife failed and the estate is to be dealt with as though he was intestate. Significant legal costs were incurred and would reduce the available estate. The will-maker clearly intended to give away his property in a particular way, but because of the inadequacy of the document the Court was not convinced that giving it to his de facto was what was intended.

This outcome could have been avoided had a properly drawn Will been made. You dont need to take our word for it, here is the decision

For advice on estate planning, wills, and will disputes, please contact Jessica Murray or Peter Muller