There has been a recent New Zealand case in which a man had refused to give his lawyer the details about his four children for the purposes of his Will.

Ultimately each of the children were awarded $1.25 million of his Estate.  The children didn’t know of their father’s death for a period of 2 ½ years after he had died.

The deceased man had won a significant sum of money through Lotto, and had included his children as “discretionary beneficiaries” of his Will but had not named them. Discretionary beneficiaries could only benefit if the Executor chose to distribute the deceased’s assets to them.  It is also understood that the deceased did not include in his Will any provision or reason as to why the children should not be left any money or other assets. 

The adult children were estranged earlier in life when their parents separated.  They had not received any financial support from their father during their lifetime. 

The High Court decided that this sum would be life-changing for each of the children, but would not go against the deceased’s wishes as he had included them as discretionary beneficiaries under his Will.

This case outlines the importance of being clear as to who is to inherit your Estate.  It is also important that, when you are leaving out children from significant parts of your Estate, you explain to your lawyer the reasons why, so it can be recorded clearly in your Will.

When making a Will it is important to take legal advice specific to your situation.  Your experienced succession or personal services lawyer will be able to advise you about how you can best frame the terms of your Will to reflect your wishes.  If you don’t, you may end up having the Court make a decision against your wishes after your death.