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What happens when a will kit goes wrong?

When Paulo Demarchi passed away it came to light that he had a will kit will. With sections of the will incomplete, his estate could have passed to his stepfather instead of his brother. Not only that, the court costs to his estate to defend his stepfather’s claim were sizable, reducing the amount of the estate left to the eventual beneficiary. It’s true that you don’t need a lawyer to make a will but get anything wrong in that will kit and it might mean your favourite people miss out on the gifts and inheritance you want them to have.

In Paulo Demarchi’s case, (Bain v Demarchi) that went to the Queensland Supreme Court in September 2023, it got to court eight months after he died. His will listed only his mother Rhonda as a beneficiary, unfortunately she died less than 30 days after him. Here’s a little-known will fact, unless your will says otherwise, a person listed as a beneficiary, needs to survive you by 30 days or more in order to inherit your estate.

Paulo’s will kit had an allocated space asking him to nominate how many days a person must survive the deceased to benefit from the will, but that space was left blank. That meant the Succession Act came into effect. Paulo’s stepfather took the case to the Queensland Supreme Court believing he should receive the proceeds of Paulo’s will as he was married to the will’s listed beneficiary, Rhonda.

When you write your will, listing a second beneficiary provides a backup plan, in case anything was to happen to the first nominated receiver of your estate.

When a will is contested and ends up in court, it’s likely that costs to defend the estate will be upwards of $70,000 for a barrister and lawyer to take on your matter.

If Paulo had written his will with the help of a lawyer, it’s likely they would have recommended listing a second beneficiary. Court proceedings might not have been necessary, and it would have saved his estate thousands of dollars in court costs and legal proceedings.

The death of a loved one is stressful enough without family members challenging who is entitled to your estate. 

When you make a will with a lawyer, they have the legal expertise to ensure your wishes are clearly and accurately stated in your Last Will and Testament, minimising the possibility of someone claiming against your estate. A will at a solicitor comes with a cost but the peace of mind and the security of your estate it provides can be priceless.

If you would like help with your will, estate plan or estate settlement contact Leonie Davey on 07 4925 0229 for an appointment.