Being around your loved ones as we approach the festive season, many people start to consider their Will and estate planning – the legacy that they will leave behind and how their loved ones will be provided for after they are gone.
It can be tempting to make an informal Will or make changes to your existing Will, but this is fraught with dangers.
The recent decision of Young & Martin handed down by the Court of Appeal (WA), clearly shows the complexities surrounding admitting an informal Will for Probate (and on the flip side, establishing that a document was not intended by the deceased to be their Last Will and Testament).
In this case, the deceased’s four page Will was only signed on one page, and this signature was only witnessed by one witness – whereas under the Wills Act 1970, a formal Will must be signed on every page and witnessed by two adult witnesses. It was also agreed that the pages stapled to the signed page were created after the signed page and simply attached. The parties to this action would have incurred significant legal costs, being assisted by both solicitors and counsel.
By all means, give these issues careful consideration, but take advice and ensure your Will complies with the law.
If you’re interested in the detail, the decision of Young & Martin is here.