Steven Rainoldi probably thought he was doing the right thing;
he was diagnosed with terminal cancer so prepared a homemade will
on 13 July 2006. He died on 8 April 2011, leaving his de facto
wife, his young daughter and a son and daughter from a previous
marriage. At the time of his death, Mr Rainoldi was operating an
orchard in partnership with his de facto wife from their principal
place of residence.
Unfortunately for Mr Rainoldi's family, his will was not as
clear as he had probably intended it to be. Five questions arose as
to the will's interpretation and the Administrator of Mr
Rainoldi's will, being his de facto wife, had to apply to the
Supreme Court so that the document could be interpreted. Three of
the questions were able to be resolved before the hearing but
questions about the orchard partnership and the property
Section 45 of the Administration Act 1903 (WA)
authorises the Supreme Court to settle questions arising in any
will or administration. There are four overriding principles which
the Court applies:
The Court's object is to ascertain the testator's
intention as expressed in the will.
The will in question must be read as a whole and in light of
The "armchair" principle applies in respect of
considering the surrounding circumstances. This allows the Court to
receive evidence and consider it as if sitting in the
At first glance, words are to be given their ordinary
Section 26 of the Wills Act 1970 (WA) also details the
general rules of construction in respect of wills. Such general
the will is to be construed, with reference to the property
comprised in it, to speak and take effect as if it has been
executed immediately before the death of the testator;
property that is the subject of a disposition, other than the
exercise of a power of appointment, that is void or fails to take
effect is to be included in any residuary disposition contained in
the will; and
if any part of a disposition in fractional parts of the whole
or of the residue of the estate of a testator fails, the part that
fails accrues to the part that does not fail, and, if there is more
than one part that does not fail, to all those parts
On 20 August 2015 the Court handed down its decision in respect
of Mr Rainoldi's will and (subject to any appeal) the
Administrator can now go about finalising his estate, more than
four years after Mr Rainoldi died. To view the RAINOLDI -v-
RAINOLDI  WASC 312 decision
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Sect.117 can deal with false statements and knowingly making false allegations of violence could justify a costs order.
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