The area of Law to do with Wills, Estates and Probate is commonly called Succession Law.
Succession Law is about what happens to a person's property after they have died.
The relevant Act in Queensland is the Succession Act 1981 (QLD).
A person has the right to leave their property as they wish upon their death. There are some limitations placed upon a person's right to distribute their property upon death. These limitations are contained in the Succession Act and relate to the rights of persons who relied upon the deceased for maintenance to apply for some monies from that person's estate.
If a person does not make a Will they are said to die Intestate. There are strict rules about how the property of an Intestate person will be distributed. These rules can be found in the Succession Act.
If a person makes a Will their property is distributed according to the Will (subject to those qualifications mentioned above). Anyone over the age of eighteen (18) with a sound mind, memory and understanding may make a Will. A Will can be amended or revoked whilst that person has sufficient mental capacity.
Probate is the official recognition of the Supreme Court of Queensland of a Will and of the Executor's rights to administer that Will. Executors are the persons put in charge of looking after a person's assets after death and insuring that all the debts are paid and the assets are distributed.
Probate is costly and complicated and best obtained with the assistance of a Solicitor. Not every Will must go through Probate. It is very important to have a Will and to ensure that it is current. Sometimes with a change of situation a person must update or change their Will. These occasions include:
- purchase of large assets
- becoming a parent
- becoming married or divorced
When you marry any previous Will is automatically revoked unless it is made in contemplation of marriage.