Can I just make changes to my Will?

Many people may incorrectly believe that they can make their own handwritten changes to their Will and those handwritten amendments will automatically be accepted as altering the Will. Under Queensland law, a Will can only be amended if the amendments satisfy the requirements as listed in the Succession Act.

A recent Queensland decision outlined the costs that an Estate can incur where a person makes handwritten alterations to their Will. In that case, the deceased had a handwritten document with the heading “Alterations to my Will” stapled to a photocopy of his current Will. The deceased had signed and dated the document however as the document didn’t comply with all of the requirements of the Succession Act, his Estate was forced to make an application to the Supreme Court for the Court to decide whether the proposed alterations contained in that document were to be upheld.

The Court determination was that the alterations were to be upheld however the cost that the Estate would have been put to in making an application to Queensland’s highest court for a ruling, could have been easily avoided if the deceased had made an appointment with his solicitor to have the required amendments drafted in a legally binding way.

To ensure that your Estate is administered in a way that you intend, a person should never attend to try and alter a legally binding Will without approaching a solicitor to ensure same is done legally and validly in accordance with the then requirements of the legislation in the jurisdiction within which they live. Failure to engage the services of a solicitor may result in either the purported alterations not being upheld or alternatively, being upheld but with such additional costs being borne by the Estate which could easily have been avoided if an updated or amended Will was prepared by the person’s solicitor.

At McLaughlins Lawyers, we have experienced staff to assist you in attending to alter your Will and also provide you with advice in relation to whether such alterations may or may not result in the Will being challenged at a later date. Please contact our team should you require such assistance.

Author: Kristy Collins

Director: Ian Kennedy

Date: 31/10/2016