CONTESTING A WILL: ARE THE LAWS FAIR?

March 28, 2017

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Have you ever contested a will? If you have, you’ll know that it can be a stressful exercise and sometimes the outcome may not be what you were hoping for.

SALRI enquiry

When a person makes a will, there is a basic principle that comes into play, known as testamentary freedom. That is, that a person (the testator) is free to make a will and dispose of their estate in any way they wish.

But often this can lead to big problems for beneficiaries, for example, if dependent children are left out of the will. This kind of issue has led to laws being introduced that require the testator to properly provide for any dependents, or any other people to whom they owe a duty. This is where legal issues can become really complicated.

The South Australian Law Reform Institute (SALRI) recognises this and is encouraging people to have their say about their experiences with wills and inheritance laws.

What is SALRI?

SALRI is an independent body that is dedicated to reviewing South Australian laws. It systematically reviews laws to work out what is up-to-date and what needs to change. It also tries to keep South Australian laws in line with other Australian States so that there is more uniformity throughout Australia.

What will the review achieve?

SALRI will consider the information that it collects from the community as well as input from legal experts and other legal research. It will then draft a report and make various recommendations which will be passed on to the South Australian Government to consider.

Questions include:

  • Should a court be able to change who gets property after a person dies, even if they have left a will?
  • Should adult children be able to claim that they haven’t received a fair share of the estate?
  • Does the law properly protect the person who makes the will (testator) and the family members who survive the testator?
  • Who should be able to make a claim against a deceased estate?
  • How should legal costs be managed?

Ultimately, SALRI aims to achieve changes to inheritance laws that will ensure a fairer system for everyone.

How to participate

If you would like to share your experiences with SALRI, or have views about how the law should change, go to the SALRI website for further information. You can complete an online survey or join in on various discussions. You can also watch information videos and read the various fact sheets that have been produced to assist people to have their say. Click here to access the website:

https://yoursay.sa.gov.au/decisions/looking-after-one-another/about

We support this review because anything that improves our clients’ experiences with the law is a good thing. We encourage as many people as possible to have their say.

If you have any questions about this review, or would like to see one of our lawyers to discuss your experiences, we’re here to help. Contact ustoday to find out more.