Can an Executor Change a Will in Qld?

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The short answer to this question is yes, but it has a few important caveats. While an executor cannot unilaterally rewrite a will, there are specific situations where modifications or deviations from the original document can occur.

How can an executor change a will after someone dies?

An executor cannot simply rewrite a will. However, they may be able to make changes or deviate from the original document under specific circumstances:

  1. Deed of Variation (Family Arrangement): With the agreement of all beneficiaries, an executor can facilitate a deed of variation. This legal document allows beneficiaries to modify how assets are distributed, effectively altering the terms of the will. Everyone who would receive a smaller inheritance due to the change must agree and sign the deed.
  2. Court Order: If following the will’s instructions becomes impractical, impossible, or would cause significant hardship, a court may grant an executor permission to deviate from the will. This might happen if, for example, an asset mentioned in the will no longer exists or a beneficiary has passed away before the will-maker.
  3. Informal Wills and Ambiguity: If a will is considered informal or contains unclear language, the court may interpret the deceased’s intentions, potentially leading to a different outcome than explicitly stated in the will.

Remember, an executor’s power to change a will is limited. Valid legal reasons must support any changes and often require the involvement of beneficiaries or the court. If you have questions or concerns about changing a will after someone’s death, it’s always wise to seek professional legal advice. An experienced estate lawyer can guide you through the process, ensuring the deceased’s wishes are respected while protecting the rights of beneficiaries.

Also read: Executor Time Limits: Delays, Prevention, Penalties and More

Can minor changes be made to a will after death without involving the court?

Minor changes to a will after the will-maker’s death can sometimes be made without involving the court, but it depends on the nature of the change and the beneficiaries’ agreement.

A Deed of Variation (Family Arrangement) is a legal document that all beneficiaries can agree to and sign, allowing them to modify how assets are distributed under the will. This effectively alters the terms of the will without needing court intervention. However, all beneficiaries who would receive a smaller inheritance due to the change must consent and sign the deed.

For instance, if the will leaves a specific item to a beneficiary who no longer wants it, the beneficiaries could agree through a deed of variation to allocate the item to someone else. Similarly, if the will’s wording is slightly unclear but the deceased’s intention is evident, the beneficiaries might agree to a minor adjustment to clarify the distribution.

However, if the changes are substantial or the beneficiaries disagree, then court involvement may be necessary. In such cases, the executor may need to seek the court’s permission to deviate from the will’s original instructions.

Also read: Executor of Will Ipswich: 4 Important Responsibilities of an Executor

Minor Will Change in Queensland

Our client, an executor in Queensland, recently contacted us at Walker Pender with concerns about making a minor change to a will. He wanted to ensure he had the authority to modify a small detail. We advised him that minor changes can sometimes be made without court intervention through a Deed of Variation, as long as all beneficiaries agree. However, we emphasised the importance of seeking legal counsel to ensure proper execution and adherence to Queensland law.

Need Help With Executor Duties in Queensland?

Navigating the complexities of executing a will in Queensland can be overwhelming, especially when considering potential changes. If you’re an executor facing similar uncertainties or require legal guidance on estate administration, Walker Pender Group is here to assist. Our experienced team can offer expert advice tailored to your specific situation. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.

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