Dying Intestate – An avoidable burden

Dying without a valid Will leaves the State Government to decide who inherits from you, instead of your wishes.

Janet and Robert Holmes a Court

As previously mentioned on our Facebook and LinkedIn, I was recently invited by the Fremantle Foundation to a luncheon with Janet Holmes a Court. During her talk, Janet said that her husband robbed her of the right to grieve by dying without a Will. This comment perfectly captures the consequences of dying intestate (without a Will).

Janet’s late husband, Robert Holmes a Court, was a billionaire who died intestate and was only in his 50’s. Apart from Janet, he left behind four young children. Because he died intestate, his assets were administered according to the formula imposed by the rules of intestacy. Administration of an estate is no easy task and an even more difficult task when the estate is complex. Accordingly, the estate took 20 years to administer. The family encountered much hardship and conflict whilst administering the estate and by the time the job was done, Robert’s amazing legacy had been washed away amidst the conflict that his estate caused. As Janet herself said: “it was hell because it was like war with your own family”: (More)

Homemade Wills

Some clients may think that they are doing the right thing by drafting their own Wills. You may query why a client shouldn’t make their own Will. The answer is simple: just as you would use an electrician in your home or a mechanic to service your car, it is strongly advised to have an experienced lawyer draft legal documents, such as Wills. Lawyers are not only experienced in the formalities of Will-making, but also in the issues that a client must turn their mind to when dividing their estate including taxation implications, asset protection, and the appointment of an appropriate person or persons to administer their estate. 

DIY Wills can cause many problems in the long run, which can be costly to your estate and may bring hardship or distress to your loved ones. Clients should be aware that a cheap Will could be an expensive estate. In fact, Master Craig Sanderson of the Supreme Court dubbed homemade wills a “curse” in a judgement in 2013.

Facilitating the Will-making process for your clients

Any client will benefit from discussing their estate planning requirements with an estate planning specialist. We offer obligation and cost free initial consultations for your clients. Together we can ensure that your clients are on track to secure their legacy in the way they envisage, whilst making the experience for their loved ones as easy as possible at that difficult time.

This publication contains general information and does not constitute legal advice. It is intended to provide a summary of the subject matter and is not intended to be comprehensive. You should seek specialist legal advice on the subject matter before acting.