23 September 2019

Belt, Braces and a Piece of String

Geoffrey Armstrong
Geoffrey Armstrong New

What is the position where there is more than one Will?

A person may make several Wills during their lifetime and each new Will should contain a revocation clause duly revoking the preceding Will so that in most cases a person will die leaving only one “last Will”.

However, on occasions (and usually involving a DIY home-made Will) the revocation clause is left out or more than one copy of the Will is executed resulting in uncertainty as to what provisions have or have not been revoked or which Will is in fact the “last Will” and the one to be admitted to probate.

Case study

Such uncertainty arose in the case of Re Gawley (deceased) [2018] QSC 242. In this case the late Betty Gawley executed her last Will on 8th June, 2017 and, one can only assume for the convenience of her executors or beneficiaries, executed two further identical copies.

None of the three Wills contained a revocation clause and no evidence could be found to decide which of the three Wills was executed last.

Although the Wills were in identical terms the Supreme Court’s intervention was required to determine and make a ruling on which Will was to be admitted to probate. An order was duly made to select one Will as the “last Will” and costs were met by the estate.

This is yet another example of a DIY Will creating uncertainty and requiring the attention of the Supreme Court. A simple, well intended and maybe seemingly logical act by Betty Gawley incurred cost to the beneficiaries which would have been avoided had proper legal advice been taken.

 

You can read the full judgement regarding Betty’s wills here.

 

 


Individual liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation (personal injury work exempted).

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