Peter Brock and unintended Intestacy

Peter Brock, was one of Australia’s best-known and most successful motor racing drivers. In September 2006, while competing in a road race Peter’s car skidded off a bend and hit a tree; he was killed instantly aged 61.

Peter was married twice, in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. There were no children of either marriage. Between 1976 and 2005, he was in a de-facto relationship with Beverley they had two children Robert and Alexandra and treated Beverley’s son James, from a previous relationship as his own child.

Peter and Beverley’s relationship ended and at the time of his death, Peter was in a de facto relationship with, and engaged to, Julie Anne Bamford, they had jointly purchased a property at St Andrews – which was mortgaged at the time of Peter’s death.

 In July 1984, Peter had a Will made by his solicitor – the will was validly executed, and provided for specific monetary gifts to Peter’s parents, children, Beverley and other family members; Beverley and the children could live in the family home until her remarriage or death, or until the youngest of the children turned 18; and left Beverley all furniture including Peter’s trophies and other sporting memorabilia. The residue of the estate was to be distributed to Peter’s parents, Beverley and the children.

 In 2003, Peter’s personal circumstances had changed, importantly both his parents had died so Beverley suggested on several occasions that he update his will.

Peter expressed the view that, after he died he would not be around therefore had nothing to worry about. Beverley expressed her concern that she would have to resolve the mess should Peter die before her, so for all our sakes he should assist me and make the effort.

Peter completed a “do-it-yourself” will kit  leaving blank those parts of the will kit which disposed of his property. Peter told Beverley that, as he trusted her completely, she could complete the remaining sections of the will at the time of his death, that she should then sign and date it, and “he would be more than happy with that”.

Peter then signed the will kit as testator, in the presence of both Beverley and an employee who signed and completed her details in one of the sections reserved for witnesses. Beverley did not witness the will.

As the 2003 will contained no provisions disposing of Peter’s estate. The Court had to decide that if the Will was valid, the estate would be administered in accordance with the rules of intestacy.

In July 2007, Peter brought a will kit to his office and dictated his wishes to an employee who filled out the form. Later that same day, the employee used her rough notes to prepare a hand-written document entitled “The Wishes of Peter G Brock” – however Peter didn’t sign either document and the Will document wasn’t witnessed.

The Court held that the 2003 Will was not valid as a will as it was signed by one, not two, witnesses therefore it does not meet the required formalities. However Peter did intend that the 2003 Will revoke any previous wills, including the 1984 will.

A will may be revoked by:

  • The creation of another valid will or codicil;
  • a valid declaration in writing of an intention to revoke a will; or
  • the destruction of the will.

Any writing declaring an intention to revoke a will is sufficient, provided that the declaration is signed by the Will maker and witnessed in the same manner as a Will

Therefore Peter died intestate and the entire estate was left to his biological children Robert and Alexandra who agreed to divide the estate equally with their stepbrother James.


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