The recent Judgment of the High Court is a timely reminder of the need to regularly review your Will, or if you have a Will, to update it.

The background to the Judgment is that in 1984 Mr & Mrs T married.  There were no children of the marriage and Mr T did not have other children.

In May 2001 the couple separated.   On 31 October 2001 a Matrimonial Property Agreement was concluded.  The matrimonial home was transferred from their joint ownership to the sole ownership of Mr T.   Mr T paid Mrs T $13,000.00 being her half share of the equity in the property.

On 20 August 2009, Mr T died without a Will.   Mrs T then took legal advice and then steps to occupy and safeguard the former matrimonial home in which her late husband had resided in until his death.

Because Mr T died without a Will, the provisions of Administration Act 1969 applied.  Under that Act, because Mrs T was Mr T’s surviving spouse (even though they had concluded a Matrimonial Property Agreement), and because Mr T died without leaving children, Mrs T was entitled to Mr T’s entire estate.  This was so even though the parties had settled their matrimonial property in 2001 and Mr T had paid out Mrs T.  The Court concluded that this was not the intended outcome but resulted from the mismanagement of Mr T’s affairs i.e. the failure to make a Will.

It is apparent from this case that the completion (and regular review) of a Will is essential to ensure that your estate is ultimately distributed according to your wishes.

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