Even if you are in perfect health and in the prime of your life,
it is still important to think about the distribution of your
assets and possessions if you were to pass away.
A recent case in the Supreme Court of NSW illustrates the
potential difficulties that both lawyers and beneficiaries face
when somebody passes away without having a signed current will in
The facts of this case are quite simple:
Mr Maestrale contracted leukaemia and was admitted to
Given the condition was serious, Mr Maestrale wanted to sign a
new will, selecting his son as the main beneficiary of his estate.
He met with his lawyer and informed him of his wishes.
The lawyer took more than a week to prepare the new will, even
after the son had left several urgent telephone messages advising
him of his father's declining health.
About ten minutes before the lawyer arrived at the hospital
with the new will, Mr Maestrale passed away, and the new will was
The Court held that the new will was invalid, and his estate
would be distributed according to an older will. As you can
imagine, the son was not pleased with this situation as he was left
a smaller share of his father's estate. The son commenced
proceedings against the lawyer, arguing that the lawyer's
negligence caused him significant loss. The judge agreed with the
son and found the lawyer was liable to the son in the sum of
Lessons to be learnt
Even though the lawyer was found negligent for not preparing the
will in a timely manner, this whole case could have been avoided if
Mr Maestrale had signed a will as soon as he was sure about leaving
more of his estate to his son. This case illustrates the point
perfectly, and is a reminder for everyone to have their personal
affairs in order, even if you are in peak physical condition and
can see no likelihood of falling sick in the near future.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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There are several requirements that must be completed by an executor before the distribution of assets to beneficiaries.
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