Woman makes three copies of Will, creates problem in court

Published 17 Nov 2018

What happens if there is more than one copy of a Will? While it may seem like identical copies of the same document don’t change anything in court proceedings, this can actually cause some confusion.

A recent case in Australia showed how multiple copies of a Will can create problems.

What is a revocation clause?

In NSW, the last and final Will must be made available for use in court after a person dies. This final Will should sufficiently provide evidence of a person’s wishes at the time of their death. Because wishes for asset distribution often change, this distinction of a last and final Will is an important one.

A revocation clause in a Will is meant to revoke all previous Wills that have been created, to help prevent confusion around which Will is the most current. This clause ensures that none of those other previous Wills are still in effect.

Three copies of the same Will

A woman who passed away recently in Queensland created three copies of the same Will, and had no revocation clause. While she likely created these copies to ensure the Will would be found at her death and to help simplify the process for the executor, the act ended up creating a problem in court.

The judge was unsure which Will should be considered the final Will, since there was no revocation clause that revoked previous versions. The executor of the woman’s estate approached the Supreme Court with the three documents to better identify which one was the last Will. Even though the documents were identical in their terms, there must be only one final Will.

All three Wills were deemed necessary to submit to probate court, the judge said. The judge ended up labeling one of the Wills with the letter “A” to indicate which one would be considered the woman’s last and final Will.

If you have questions about creating a Will or contesting a Will of a family member or loved one, we can help you with the process. Our experienced team of attorneys at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers can offer you a free consultation to start things off. Contact us today to learn about the new fixed-fee arrangement we are currently offering our clients.

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