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Glen D'Cruz - Solicitor
Glen D'Cruz - Solicitor

ARTICLE by Philip Revell

March 2013

Recently there have been a large number of court decisions published to among the legal profession make it clear that many people are attempting to make provision for their families on their death, without actually going to the bother and expense of making a formal will.

Such attempts range from people leaving an expression of their wishes on a scrap of paper to buying and completing a wills form but then not properly signing or properly having it witnessed – or even attending to have a lawyer draft a will and then failing to sign it.

The writer of this article has even had a situation where a client had a will drawn up; failed to attend to sign it; received and paid a bill – and still did not attend to sign the will!

This article was prompted by a case reported today where the deceased person had left sealed envelopes with family members “to be opened on my death”. Each envelope contained an identical document which was signed by the deceased but not witnessed and which was called “will and testament of AFW”.

In the case of such documents, it has been since 2007, possible for the High Court to declare such an improperly signed or unsigned document to be the deceased person’s last will – but only under limited circumstances, generally when all the persons who might benefit from the estate consent; and even then only if the court is convinced the document truly expresses the deceased person’s last wishes (for instance, he or she could simply have changed their mind in which case the court may hold that the document is not their “last will”. Somehow the beneficiaries of the document will have to convince the court this is not a case of a change of mind – proving a negative is always difficult.)

However, to have such a document validated by the court requires:

  1. The involvement of one or possibly more legal firms or specialist barristers to argue the point before the Judge;
  2. A legal firm’s work in researching what is required and then possibly engaging in extensive correspondence with all potential beneficiaries;
  3. At least one but probably two or three court appearances – all at hourly rates likely to be anything between $150.00 and $450.00 per hour. It can be seen that the legal bills at expense of the estate (and therefore the beneficiaries) may easily rise to the thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars.

All of that could be avoided by the will maker employing Corban Revell to draft and ensure correct execution of a valid will.

The expense is not great (at Corban Revell, $150.00 – or $250.00 for a couple) and the trouble and cost to the person’s estate after they have died may be anything from 10 to 100 times as great. 

You can access the Corban Revell Lawyers WILL INFORMATION SHEET BY CLICKING HERE. Once you have filled this out, just return to our offices and someone will contact you to set up an appointment to discuss your wishes.