Tuesday, May 31, 2016

If you think about it, it exists

Last week’s post mentioned that there is no central registry for wills (unlike, for example, the ASIC which records numerous key aspects in relation to every company registered in Australia) – see 'Challenging a Will due to a Later Inconsistent Document'

Thank you to all those that flagged that this statement is no longer correct, for those in South Australia.

In a similar vein as being the first (and to date only) Australian jurisdiction to allow trusts to have no mandated vesting date (see reference to this in the following post - 'Testamentary trusts and excepted trust income') the Law Society of South Australia has established a wills register.

The platform is broadly analogous to government registers such as ASIC and is fully electronic.

Importantly however –
  1. It is not compulsory for lawyers to submit wills for registration;
  2. the system is confidential and not available to the public (access is limited to lawyers working in South Australia);
  3. there is no cost to lodge the will nor search the register;
  4. practically the platform is likely to only be of utility to those domiciled in South Australia at the date they sign (and register) their will
Despite this innovation, as mentioned last week, best practice will likely remain (even for those able to access the new platform) that a person only ever sign one copy of their intended will, and generally ensure that the physical copy of any previous will is then destroyed.

Furthermore, if a will is registered, it will make it critical that any future amendments (via codicil) or any updated will is also registered.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock