WILLS –DOES THE TERM “GRANDCHILDREN’ INCLUDE “STEP-GRANDCHILDREN”?
Identifying whether the expressions step children and step-grandchildren are included in the expressions children and grandchildren can cause confusion in Wills .
When all else fails, Courts try to determine expressions in the Will according to the intention of the deceased. Courts may in some cases look into family relationships and their closeness in order to determine the meaning of an expression such as “child”. In a recent case where there was an intention in the Will for step-grandchildren to be beneficiaries, it was decided that the definition of “grandchild” could be extended to “step-grandchild.”
If there was no clear intention, it will be assumed that nothing was intended other than the ordinary meaning of the word. However it may be that in today’s society, Courts are more amenable to extending “child “to step-child” and so on.
This will not necessarily apply in all cases.
In the meantime, some points to consider
- If you wish to leave your assets to any step-children or step-grandchildren (or you don’t want leave assets to them) you should make it clear.
- You may wish to name the step-children or step-grandchildren, but that will depend on individual circumstances
- Try to be helpful to your executors and trustees, try to avoid ambiguity, so that when the time comes, they may confidently fulfil their tasks and give effect to your wishes.
- And as always, do not put off making a will – do it while you are thinking clearly.
If you need assistance to make or change your Will due to any of these concerns please contact our Wills and Estate Planning lawyers on 9635 7966