The Sydney Morning Herald recently reported of a family’s heartbreak when they learned their recently deceased 31 year old son’s estate would not go to them but instead, would go to his former wife. His estate included a house, superannuation and a death benefit.
The deceased had been married for 3 years and the break-up had been hard going.
- > There were no children.
- > They had split their matrimonial assets.
- > They both had new partners.
- > The Wife, wishing to remarry, served the Divorce Application on the deceased prior to his death, however, he had not signed it, and so no Divorce Order had been made. This meant they were still legally married.
The error in this case was that the deceased died without a Will.
- > With no Will,
- > Without the Divorce Order, and
- > Because they had no children,
Under the Succession Act the estranged wife was entitled to the deceased’s estate.
The deceased’s family had no rights to the assets.
The deceased’s new partner is applying to the Supreme Court for a family provision order granting her a share of the estate. The deceased had been living with her at the time of his death. They had planned to buy a house and have children. However, the Succession Act only gives de facto spouses an automatic right to part of the estate if the couple had lived together for at least two years or had a child together.
This case demonstrates the importance of keeping your Will up to date.
The breakdown of a marriage or a relationship represents a significant change in personal circumstances warranting an update to your will.
Contact us today for a no obligation discussion about your Will.