What to Do When Someone Dies Without a WillWhat to Do When Someone Dies Without a Will

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What to Do When Someone Dies Without a Will

Hello, my name is Kerry. Last year my mother died suddenly. When we went through her papers, we discovered she didn't have a will. My mother had been married to another man before she met my father and I had a couple of step brothers. Unfortunately, they turned up on our doorstep and started to demand that we hand over my mother's life savings to them and their family. I contacted a lawyer who specialises in probate law. She talked me through my case and explained how we would defend it in court. Thankfully, the matter was resolved to my satisfaction and I could start to grieve for my mother. I decided to start this blog to help others who have a contested will on their hands.

Can You Attach Conditions to Clauses within Your Will?

You may be thinking about creating your last will and testament so that you give clear instructions to those who survive you and can be happy with what happens to your assets. But you may want to exercise a degree of control, especially when it comes to some of your more prized assets and the potential beneficiaries. Did you know that you can, in some circumstances, attach conditions to the information in your will? What's the best way to approach this situation?

Attaching Conditions

Australian law does provide for your will to have 'conditional' gifts. If you decide to attach such instruction, it will mean that the money or asset you leave to a person can only be distributed if a certain event occurs. Some people seek to do this to incentivise a relative with a prize of some kind. For example, they may suggest that a grandchild only receives a lump sum of money on the day after they graduate from university.

Controlling Assets in the Future

Other people in your situation may be particularly fond of a certain asset and want to ensure that the person who takes ownership actually keeps it. For example, you may have a summer cottage on the lake that brings you many great memories, and you'd like to think that the beneficiary continues to enjoy their leisure time here. In this case, you might pass on this real estate to that person but on the proviso that they do not sell it to others. However, this can be a more difficult condition to satisfy, as the beneficiary is now the legal owner to all intents and purposes. Theoretically, they are free to keep the real estate or sell it, and so the best way to approach this situation is to discuss the matter with your lawyer first.

Consider First

Think carefully before you attach conditions to any items in your will. While you may have the best intentions at heart, you may nevertheless create additional difficulties for the beneficiary. For example, if a grandchild could not graduate from university for situations that were not easy for them to manage (such as an illness, perhaps), then most people would consider the outcome unfair.

Discussing the Matter

Don't leave anything to chance when it comes to distributing your hard-earned assets, but talk everything through with your legal advisers first. It may also be beneficial to chat with other adult family members to get their input before you decide.

Contact a wills lawyer for more information.