NSW Interpretation of words in a Will

Discussion in 'Wills and Estate Planning Law Forum' started by Roger Slimwood, 6 December 2018.

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  1. Roger Slimwood

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    I am the executor of a Will. There is a sentence which I am uncertain about, as there is some ambiguity of interpretation. Would the learned members of this forum please kindly suggest the likely legal interpretation. The words are: (The names are changed).

    "I direct that my estate be divided as follows:

    50% of the estate to go to John Luke White and Mary Sarah White."

    So, as we understand it, the above sentence could mean that John and Mary who are husband and wife, receive 25% each, or it could also mean that John and Mary are willed the 50% jointly. The assets is question are shares. Owning shares separately or jointly are quite different scenarios, and we need clarification on this point. There is one other beneficiary to the Will, and they receive the other 50% of the estate.

    Thank you if you can help.

    Roger
     
  2. Scruff

    Scruff Well-Known Member

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    Interpret it "literally" - which is that 50% goes to John as Mary as a single entity. That means there is no stipulation regarding an equal 25%/25% split.
    So how John and Mary split that 50% would be up to them, not the executor.
     
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  3. Roger Slimwood

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    Thank you for your post. Indeed, you are correct, but, the asset in question are shares, and the probate lawyer will be approaching the share registries with instructions to either split them between two different HINs or to a single, new joint HIN. John and Mary will receive their shares as a fait accompli, but the form in which they receive them is all important, i.e. joint or separate. Are we understanding procedures correctly?
     
  4. Scruff

    Scruff Well-Known Member

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    It should simply be a matter of contacting John and Mary and letting them decide how they want it done. You then organise things according to their instructions. The point being that since the will doesn't stipulate, there's nothing to stop you from allowing John and Mary to decide for themselves how they want the distrubution done.

    Things should only get complicated if you can't track them down for some reason.
     
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  5. Roger Slimwood

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    Thank you very much. That is just what we needed to know. We hadn't appreciated that the beneficiaries would be the deciding factor in this instance.
     
  6. Scruff

    Scruff Well-Known Member

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    No worries mate - and welcome to the forum.

    (By the way, the use of fake names is pretty clever and very useful. It makes things a lot easier for people on here when it comes to how they word their answers. Any newbies reading this thread, please take note.) ;)
     
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