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Wills

This category contains 23 posts

Myths and liability

Trustees act personally.  As noted in the Supreme Court judgment in Macalister Todd Phillips Bodkins v AMP (emphasis added): “Liabilities incurred by a trustee in relation to a trust are always the personal liabilities of the trustee … A creditor has a personal right to sue a trustee and to get judgment and make the … Continue reading

Execution clause reminder

A valid will requires, amongst other things, two witnesses to the signature of the will-maker (see Wills Act, s 11).  Where a will is signed by a will-maker and the requisite two witnesses, this by itself is insufficient to confirm that the witnesses were present when the will was signed.  The standard will attestation reads: … Continue reading

She loves me, she loves me not …

It can be hard enough to deal with being de-friended on Face Book.  But what about when your mother favours the sibling who lived with her for her whole life over you? Rule and Belcher v Rule and Charles Whata J grappled with this reality when an elderly mother entered into a new will days after suffering … Continue reading

What’s fair?

The harsh reality of math of asset and estate planning is that sometimes 3 into 1 just will not fit.  Consider Talbot v Talbot.  The residual estate comprised: 1 farm interest worth approximately $4m $2m cash, and 3 beneficiaries. One son had worked on the farm from the age of 17.  The two daughters enjoyed a … Continue reading

War of the roses

War of the Roses is a 1989 American film based on the 1981 novel The War of the Roses by Warren Adler. The film, which  co-stars Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito chronicles the demise of a marriage  against the backdrop of a beautiful home that the couple, literally fight to the death over.  Trust disputes can be … Continue reading

Family at war – but which war?

On 17 July 2016 the Sunday Star Times reported about a family at war over a mansion with an opening quote that read “Lawyers say the judiciary are increasingly overturning wills in family disputes.” The dispute ended up in the High Court, firstly regarding an application for the removal of the trustees and secondly a … Continue reading

Boys will be boys

When embarking on asset and estate planning, an important but often overlooked enquiry is as to how the next generation will manage the assets (and what those assets might be) and who sensibly should be in charge.  Consider the case of Frickleton v Frickleton. In this case one of four sons ends up as the sole executor … Continue reading

‘Come hither, Little One,’ said the Crocodile

The great tragedy of any will that  omits children, or provides for a grossly disproportionate split, is the difficulty to assess the whys and hows of the matter when the who is dead. Matters can be further complicated when the sole recipient of their parent’s bounty is also the sole executor. Consider for example Estate … Continue reading

What’s in a name?

References to executors and trustees are routinely combined and treated as synonymous with each other.  But are they?  Actually they are not.  While the distinction is often unimportant, in certain circumstances it is critical. The executor’s duties include obtaining a grant of probate, getting in all of the assets, paying outstanding (and future) debts including … Continue reading

Do trusts still work?

I was asked this week, in a round about way, whether trusts “still work”?  The question was actually couched as to whether I was aware of any statistics about how many trusts are wound up.  I am not aware of any statistics along those lines.  However, from my own experience I still settle more trusts … Continue reading