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Last Minute Wills – When Time Is Of The Essence

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I was recently reminded of the importance of having a valid and up to date Will.

A colleague and I received instructions from the son of one of our clients, who had terminal cancer. The matter was urgent as his father did not have a Will and his Estate would have had to be distributed between him and his mother (pursuant to the laws of intestacy).  

This was not the preferred result as it would have had severe financial implications for his mother.

Time was of the essence and we rushed off to the hospital.  It was upon our arrival that we realised the severity and urgency of the matter.  Our client was immobile, found it difficult to breath and appeared extremely ill.  Although it was very difficult for our client and his family, we discussed his wishes.  The treating medical practitioners found that our client had testamentary capacity and we advised him accordingly and diligently.   We then rushed back to the office to draft his Will and other documents.

The next day my colleague and I drove back to the hospital, and after the drafts had been approved, attended to signing.  The signing took about 3 hours, due to the fact that our client found it very difficult to write.  After he signed the documents there was a sense of finality in the room.  We were informed that our client passed away early the next morning.

This is just one of the many urgent instructions we have received.  There is a variety of issues that can arise when someone makes a Will while they are ill, whether mentally or physically.  These issues generally include:

  1. whether the Will reflects the deceased’s true wishes;
  2. whether the deceased had testamentary capacity at the time of signing the Will; and
  3. whether the deceased signed the Will under undue influence or because of unconscionable conduct of other parties.

It is so easy for these ‘Last Minute’ Wills to be drafted or completed incorrectly.  It is therefore of paramount importance that these Wills are drafted by well-equipped, well-trained and competent lawyers.  

While we could assist our client and his family just in time, other families may not be in such position. The rules of intestacy are very clear about the distribution of assets for people who do not have valid Wills. I recommend that you read my blog titled “Why do I even need a Will” at http://www.butlers.com.au/butlers-blogs-2/2854-why-do-i-even-need-a-will

We have experienced many situations such as the one above and while it never gets easier, we are just as committed to being there with you to assist in these difficult times.  As a firm that is always looking to give back to the community, we have partnered with the Cancer Council who regularly come to us to ask for assistance in preparing Wills on a pro-bono basis.

At Butlers we have a compassionate and dedicated Team which is ready, willing and able to drop everything to assist you when time is truly of the essence.  Please call us today if you need assistance.

We are ‘Your Personal Law Firm’.

 

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Wednesday, 05 August 2020

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