Is a Will truly a 'last will and testament'? On a number of occasions I have been looked at in shock when I tell people that the bequests that they make in their Will are subject to challenge. That there is, at law, no such thing as a 'last Will and testament'. If there is a family member who qualifies under the Inheritance Act (WA) they can apply to the Court to amend the terms of the Will if they can prove that they have not been adequately provided for under the Will. Of course, there are a number of things the Court will take into account in determining that; which are too complex for a blog discussion! What is interesting, though, is the reaction of most people when they are told about this. Usually, disgust that they cannot decide once and for all who should benefit from a lifetime of their labours. That a judge, someone who does not know all of the history of the family and the intricacies of the relationships between the different family members, can ultimately decide who is entitled to what. That person does not know the family 'dynamic'. Nor will any amount of evidence given to a Court truly reflect those dynamics.
Having said that, should the Court have a role in ensuring that those family members who require more financial support, get that support where they otherwise might not? Are there good public policy reasons for this approach? I am undecided about this. I am torn between the shock of those who feel disempowered in making decisions about their assets and the situations that I come across where family members in real need are not supported when those who are self-supporting are bequeathed the majority of the estate. Interestingly, I also question: 'Who am I to judge?'