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‘Home made wills a curse’

CHRIS THOMSON

EXCLUSIVE: Home made wills are a “curse” that only occasionally lead to a smooth handover of a deceased person’s assets the master of Western Australia’s Supreme Court has warned.

“Home made wills are a curse,” Supreme Court Master Craig Sanderson stressed in a judgment delivered today on a prolonged family tussle over the assets of Bullsbrook horse trainer Robb Gray who died in 2003.

“Occasionally where the assets of a testator are limited and where the beneficiaries are not in dispute no difficulties may arise in the administration of an estate.

“Flaws in the will can be glossed over and the interests of all parties can be reconciled.”

However, Master Sanderson warned that in cases such as the Gray vs Gray one “where the estate of the deceased is substantial, the will is opaque and there is no agreement among the beneficiaries, the inevitable result is an expensive legal battle which is unlikely to satisfy everyone”.

At the time of his death, Mr Gray ran the high profile Rangeview Stud, which is now operated by his son Robbie. The current value of three properties owned by the Mr Gray at the time of his death now amounts to $7.3 million.

Mr Gray left a will dated September 19, 2001. Probate of the will was granted to Mr Gray’s oldest child Leeanne, oldest son Ashley, and younger two sons Murray and Robbie as co-executors.

Leeanne Gray contested aspects of Mr Gray’s home made will. But Master Sanderson today ruled largely in the other Grays’ favour.

“All of this could have been avoided if the testator had consulted a lawyer and signed off on a will which reflected his wishes,” Master Sanderson advised.

“There is no question but that engaging the services of a properly qualified and experienced lawyer to draft a will is money well spent.”

Photo: ‘Darrellksr’, Wikimedia Commons

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