What are your intentions?

Anthony John Sheed died on 21 June 2010. He had made a Will on 18 May 2009. Sheed had divorced his former wife, Sandra, with the decree absolute effective on 17 July 2009 two months after the Will had been made.

The Supreme Court of Western Australia had to decide whether or not the Will of 18 May 2009 had or had not been revoked by the subsequent divorce. Western Australian law provides that except where (a) a contrary intention appears in the will, or (b) there is other evidence establishing such an intention, subsequent divorce will revoke a will.

There was nothing written in the will to indicate that Sheen was in the process of,  or contemplating divorcing his Wife. The Court could not find a basis to conclude that a contrary intention appeared in the will to stop it from being revoked by Sheen’s divorce from Sandra.

However, evidence was provided that as the Will was prepared by the solicitors who were handling Sheen’s divorce; who had advised him to make a new will on account of the divorce proceedings; and the deceased himself had expressed a wish that Sandra should not get any of his estate; to try and establish that there was an intention that the Will should not be revoked.

The Court believed that this evidence was inconclusive and concluded that it established that if attention had been given to whether or not the will should survive the divorce by Sheen or his advisers it is likely that he would have expressed that intention clearly in the will .

This matter illustrates the need to prepare a Will that clearly expresses your intentions. As the Court found the circumstantial evidence that Sheen did not wish the divorce to revoke the Will unconvincing, therefore it could not grant Probate due to that uncertainty.

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