A Will can be straightforward or complex. However, the law surrounding Wills is anything but straightforward. In NSW, the Succession Act 2006 (S.A.) governs matters affecting Wills.
It is not the only relevant Act.
If you made your Will prior to the 1st March 2008, the provisions of the Wills, Probate and Administration Act 1898 (WPA) apply. If you made your Will after that date, the S.A. applies.
If your Estate becomes the subject of a Family Provision Claim, then the relevant laws depend upon the day you die. If the date of death was prior to 1st March 2009, the relevant law is different to that in the S.A., which only applies where persons have died after that date.
In relation to a person’s estate, if there is no Will then a person has died intestate. Under the Intestacy Laws, there is a settled list of beneficiaries and their order of entitlement. If a person has died prior to 1st March 2010, the laws are set out in the WPA. If after that date, the S.A. applies.
The WPA is actually now known as the Probate and Administration Act after a decision to change its name was made on 1st March 2008.
So we have two Acts that may be relevant. One of those Acts has now got a new name. The other one has various provisions in it that came into effect at different times. In addition to the legislation there is a substantial body of Case Law that impacts on Wills and Administration.
A Will can be straightforward, and many are. However, the consequences of not having one or, getting it wrong, are rarely straightforward. In Part 2 we will look at some examples.