After a significant portion of the Late Peter
Brock's assets have been expended on legal proceedings,
who will ultimately receive the remaining assets remains
Peter Brock's legal affairs to some extent reflect
the complicated nature of his life. For all Peter's
brilliance and talent, when it came to distributing his estate,
the legal instruments he had attempted to create provided no
certainty. Peter Brock had 3 Wills prepared – one in
1984 which was prepared by a solicitor and was validly
executed. Peter made another Will in 2003 prepared from a Will
kit. It was signed by Peter but not properly witnessed and
contained no provisions distributing the estate. Peter told his
partner Bev that he trusted her completely, and she could
complete the remaining sections of the Will at the time of his
death with whatever Bev considered fitting. A third Will was
prepared in 2006, again from a Will kit, and was never
In 2007 the Victorian Supreme Court had to decide which Will
should operate. Did the 2003 Will, even though it was not
properly signed, nevertheless revoke the 1984 Will? The Court
held that it did and that the application for probate of the
1984 Will should be refused. The Court decided that the 2003
Will had effect to appoint executors and to revoke any previous
Wills, but unfortunately the Will did not explain how the
assets would be distributed. So the estate would be
administered in accordance with the laws of intestacy.
And so, despite being conscious of the need to make and
update his Will, in not seeking proper legal advice, Peter
Brock's attempts to implement his intentions resulted
in a debacle encompassing as it did the involvement of his
family and other loved ones in very public Court proceedings at
a time of grief, and the considerable dissipation of estate
assets in determining the unfortunate dispute. And still the
question of final distribution of the estate has not yet been
addressed. It is anticipated that Peter's partner at
the time of his death will be making a claim on the estate.
Benefits of making a Will
Imagine the benefits which would have flowed to all
concerned if Peter had embarked upon a small amount of estate
planning with the benefit of legal advice which would have
achieved not only a greater degree of certainty in
administration of his estate but also the added benefits of
taxation savings and asset protection.
Through all the sensationalism, the Court decision serves as
a reminder that a Will can be revoked in a number of ways other
than by properly signing a new Will.
Wills are revoked by marriage
Had Peter formalised his union with his most recent partner,
the outcome would have been quite different. Many people do not
realise that Wills are revoked by marriage. Divorce can also
affect the provisions of a Will. At these momentous times in
our lives we are often focused on immediate events, and matters
such as estate and succession planning are not at the forefront
of our minds.
A lesson to us all
It is a lesson to us all that no matter how successful and
talented we are, unless we invest time and money in obtaining
proper advice to provide for our family's future, then
our lifelong efforts to secure that future may fail, and our
assets can be distributed in ways that we would never have
intended. Surely this is the ultimate cost/benefit
Perhaps consideration should be given to heeding the advice
contained in Bev Brock's comment: "I would hope
people out there take care of their affairs and sign their
Wills and get all the details done".
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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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