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The Importance of a VALID Will

Written by Gabriella Ferraro


Facts


Indigenous singer Dr G Yunupingu passed away in July 2017. Over 4 years later, his family is still dealing with the legal aspects of the distribution of his assets.


At the date of his death, Dr Yunupingu was separated but not divorced and in a new de facto relationship. This means that Dr Yunupingu’s former wife, de facto partner and daughter are entitled to claim against the estate.


Dr Yunupingu left an informal Will, totalling 78 words. The Will leaves half of ‘my income’ to Dr Yunupingu's daughter and the other half to the Gurrumul Yunupingu Foundation.


The Will was not prepared or reviewed by a solicitor. The Will also did not name an executor, an individual appointed to carry out the wishes of the deceased.


Going to Court


In early 2022, an application was made to the Court for letters of administration. Letters of Administration is a court order that allows you to administer (distribute) the assets left behind by the deceased.


The Court has noted that some of Dr Yunupingu’s assets have not been dealt with in his Will. This includes personal property, such as his musical instruments.


If the Will is found to be invalid or that the deceased died partially intestate, the parties will be asked to reach agreement as to distribution. If agreement cannot be reached, the assets will be distributed according to Northern Territory legislation.


Likely outcome, if this were a matter in Victoria


Victorian law dictates an equal distribution between the deceased’s former spouse and de facto partner, rather than Dr Yunupingu’s daughter.


The matter is back before the Court in February.


How can we help?


This case highlights the importance of having a valid and comprehensive Will. At an already difficult time, amidst their grief, the deceased’s family are dealing with the stress and cost of resolving these matters in the court system.


If you are considering preparing your Will or estate plan, contact a member of our estates team today on (03) 9311 8911.

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