Last week I assisted a client who wanted to a “quick” update of his will. The client was quite diligent in ensuring his estate plan was kept up to date and explained that he has updated his will on a number of occasions as circumstances in his life changed. He was also what I would consider a sophisticated client when it came to the provisions of his will and during our discussions he gave clear instructions on what he wished to change.
When I started discussing his family tree with him, he explained that he had three children with his wife who is now deceased. I asked whether there were any other children to which he responded no and said only the three children provided for in his will. I went on to explain to him that if he or his deceased wife did have children from previous marriages or relationships that the children (even if they are his stepchildren from his now deceased wife) will be able to make a claim against the estate. He was very surprised at this fact and then went on to explained that his late wife did have a child from a first marriage but that he had no contact with him since her passing over 10 years ago so he has never mentioned him during his estate plan.
I explained that this child qualifies as a stepchild and therefore would qualify as a person that can make a claim on his estate even though his wife has passed away and he has made no contact with him since then. Whether the claim would be successful is of course a whole other issue, however the inherent right still remains.
After recent changes in the Succession Act, the Act now also extends to children from de facto relationships and therefore it is of great importance that you tell your solicitor about stepchildren and children from a de facto relationship even if that spouse or de facto partner is deceased.
If you are concerned that you might not have taken these factors into consideration then you should pick up the phone and give me a call to see if I can assist, all that it will cost you is your time. If I am able to assist you I will give you complete peace of mind by providing you with a fixed price to attend to whatever work is required to be undertaken.