The Court and Civil Legislation Amendment Act 2017 introduced some important amendments to the Succession Act (Qld) that came into effect on 5 June 2017. These changes mean that de facto spouses and de facto stepchildren will now be legally recognised with the same rights afforded to spouses and stepchildren by marriage, when it comes to wills and estates in Queensland.
What has changed
A stepchild now includes the child of a party to a de facto relationship being the stepchild of the other party to the relationship. Therefore a de facto stepchild is eligible to bring a Family Provision application against the estate of a de facto step-parent.
One of the important clarifications that has been set out in the amended provisions in particular, is Section 40A (2) and (3).
Sections 40A (2) and (3) state that the relationship of stepchild and step-parent stops upon the following circumstances:
- The divorce of the deceased person and stepchild’s parent; or
- The termination of the civil partnership between the deceased person and the step-child’s parent; or
- The ending of the de facto relationship between the deceased person and the stepchild’s parent
And not merely because –
- The stepchild’s parent died before the deceased person, if the marriage, civil partnership or de facto relationship between the deceased person and the parent subsisted when the parent died; or
- The deceased person remarried, entered into a civil partnership or formed a de facto relationship after the death of the stepchild’s parent if the marriage, civil partnership or de facto relationship between the deceased person and the parent subsisted when the parent died
The other major change is the addition of a new Section 15B, which clarifies that the end of a de facto relationship now has the same effect on a testator’s will as divorce, in respect of the automatic revocation of beneficial dispositions or appointments in the deceased’s will. These changes apply unless a contrary intention appears in the Will.
There are some exceptions where the automatic revocation will not apply, including any appointments as trustee of property left on trust by the will for beneficiaries including the former de facto partner’s children or in favour of children of whom both the testator and former de facto partner are parents.
Many sections of the legal community have welcomed these overdue changes, and the certainty they now provide for those who happen to find themselves involved in a dispute or a circumstance where these issues arise.
Get in touch with us
To discuss how these changes affect you with one of our experienced lawyers, please do not hesitate to contact the Turner Freeman Lawyers Wills & Estates Team on (07) 3025 9000.
Our Queensland offices are in Brisbane, Logan, North Lakes, Ipswich, Toowoomba, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Cairns.