An elderly woman verbally told her good friend and caregiver of many years that she wanted her to have all her jewellery when she died.  She repeatedly said this. 

The elderly woman died, leaving a Will, which made no mention of the jewellery going to her friend.  Although the friend received a gift of money under the Will, this did not compare to the sentimental value that attached to the jewellery.  Not to mention the fact that she knew her elderly friend’s wish was for her to receive the jewellery.

Unfortunately, because the jewellery was not specifically referred to in the Will, it fell into that part of the deceased’s estate that was to be divided among the deceased’s family. 

In situations like this, the Will is the only binding document.  Even something handwritten and signed by the deceased before they died may not be sufficient, as there are strict witnessing requirements surrounding the signing of Wills. 

There are laws that mean the friend can make a claim against the Estate as the deceased promised to give her something for work carried out in her lifetime, but this can be difficult to prove, may result in conflict with those entitled under the Will to the deceased’s property, and sometimes even results in court proceedings.

If you have a specific wish regarding any of your property after your death, make sure you put it in your Will!  It may avert disputes between family and friends that could occur over your estate.

If you do not have a Will, the results are even worse!  In that situation, who gets your property is decided by rules set out in the Administration Act.  Not having a valid Will or having a Will that does not accurately reflect your intentions can produce unintended, and emotionally painful, results for your family and loved ones.

If you don’t have a Will, now is the time to remedy that.  If you have a Will, it is a good idea to review it to make sure that it still reflects your intentions.