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Leaving chattels under a will

There is a presumption often made by the will maker that they can leave the chattels they have to the executors and the family to sort out once they have died. A generic chattels clause is inserted in the will and the rest is left to chance.

Let it be known that chattels division issues cause a great deal of friction and angst for a grieving family, more often than it should. The deceased would never have intended these consequences.

Specific thought, instructions and drafting are needed with your lawyer when considering a will. Some options include:

  • If specific gifts from the chattels are to go to a specific person, then state that under the gift section of the will.
  • If you are making a list, including the gifts in a document, state in the will that there is a list – the Court asks to see the list if it is mentioned in the will itself.
  • Make sure at least one of the Executors is in the family group and can organise and control the family in respect of chattels issues – nothing should be taken or distributed other than in accordance with the will protocols.
  • If a spouse survives the deceased and is a second wife/husband or long term partner, then if the deceased has children from a previous relationship the status of the chattels requires some decisions. While the surviving spouse / partner has relationship property rights, the deceased’s children have rights too.

As careful planning is needed, the advice is to make haste slowly, understand that grief and emotions at the time around a death can blur clear thinking. Keep your lawyer in the loop to help chart the best course.

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