Is your Will valid in Australia?

Important information for new arrivals

The movement of a person, or a whole family, to a new life in Australia raises many important and urgent concerns. Small wonder then, that the matter of whether they have a Will, and whether it is still valid, is usually overlooked.

There is good news and there is bad news.

The good news is that a Will in existence, though made in their homeland, is probably valid in Australia - so that is something. The legislation in Australian States reads: "A Will made in (almost) any country shall be deemed valid providing it was made in conformity with the legislation then ruling in the country in which the testator was living at the time that the Will was made."

So, if they already have a Will made before embarkation, and the above statement applies, they are covered.

However, the bad news is that even though the Will is legal it has to be proven so. One can imagine the time taken whilst solicitors in the country of birth, and also Australia, prepare paperwork attesting to the legality of the original Will. It then has to be submitted to the Supreme Court. Think of the costs involved!
It probably makes good sense to write one's Wills again in Australia.

The procedure is simple and the costs relatively low. Take some care here though, as some offices undertake to prepare a Will at a very low fee, or even no fee, on the condition that they are appointed to act as executors. The fee of an executor can be 6% of the value of the estate and this can turn out to be a heavy price to pay.

The procedure is so simple that many people use kits in order to write a perfectly legal Will and appoint a relative or friend to act as executor.

The legislation governing Wills is slightly different in each State of Australia and if the Will is not in conformity with the State of residency then extra costs can apply as lawyers get involved and the Supreme Court grants approval (probate). These costs are much lower, though, than for overseas matters.

The best thing is to write one's own Will in conformity with one's State of residency. There are informative kits available which are specific to each State. When moving to a new State - write a new Will. By using a kit the cost is negligible.

By Fred Sparrow,
Legal Kit Specialists 

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