Important Amendments to Qld Succession Laws: a sign of the times

We live in a different age.  We live in a world where blended families are a common fixture within our communities.  I, personally, know many beautiful blended families and I’m sure many of my readers do also.  In fact, I’m sure there are some of my readers that may know blended families that are closer than those of “blood” families.  As such, it seems only fitting that the laws catch up with the reality of our communities and our relationships.

In a demonstration of adapting to such a change, the Queensland government has introduced amendments to the Succession Act 1981 (Qld), with a particular emphasis on de facto relationships and step-children. These changes have the potential to effect anyone who ever has a de facto relationship.

In summary, there are two noteworthy amendments:

  • A new Section 14B that sets out the effect that the end of a de facto relationship has on a person’s Will. The content of the new section is quoted below, in full

246 Insertion of new s 15B
After section 15A—
insert—

15B Effect of end of de facto relationship on a will
(1) The ending of a testator’s de facto relationship revokes—
(a) a disposition to the testator’s former de facto partner made by a will in existence when the relationship ends; and
(b) an appointment, made by the will, of the former de facto partner as an executor,
trustee, advisory trustee or guardian; and
(c) any grant, made by the will, of a power of appointment exercisable by, or in favour of, the testator’s former de facto partner.

(2) However, the ending of a testator’s de facto relationship does not revoke—
(a) the appointment of the testator’s former de facto partner as trustee of property left by the will on trust for beneficiaries that include the former de facto partner’s
children; or
(b) the grant of a power of appointment exercisable by the testator’s former de facto
partner only in favour of children of whom both the testator and the former de facto
partner are parents.

(3) Subsection (1) does not apply if a contrary intention appears in the will.

(4) If a disposition, appointment or grant is revoked by this section, the will takes effect as if the former de facto partner had died before the testator.

(5) In this section—
former de facto partner, in relation to a testator, means the person who was the de facto partner of the testator immediately before the ending of the testator’s de facto relationship.

  • An amended section 40A expanding the meaning of “step-child” for the purpose of a claim for further provision under Part 4 of the Act.

247 Amendment of s 40A (Meaning of stepchild)
Section 40A(2) and (3)—
omit, insert—

(2) The relationship of stepchild and step-parent
stops on—
(a) the divorce of the deceased person and the stepchild’s parent; or
(b) the termination of the civil partnership between the deceased person and the
stepchild’s parent; or
(c) the ending of the de facto relationship between the deceased person and the stepchild’s parent.

(3) To remove any doubt, it is declared that the relationship of stepchild and step-parent does not stop merely because—
(a) the stepchild’s parent died before the deceased person, if the marriage, civil partnership or de facto relationship between the deceased person and the parent subsisted when the parent died; or
(b) the deceased person remarried, entered into a civil partnership or formed a de facto relationship after the death of the stepchild’s parent, if the marriage, civil partnership or de facto relationship between the deceased person and the parent subsisted when the parent died.

(4) In this section—
termination, of a civil partnership, means termination under the Civil Partnerships Act 2011, section 14(1)(b) or 19.

These changes came in effect from 5 June 2017 via the Court and Civil Legislation Amendment Act 2017. An extract of the relevant sections from this Act (i.e. sections 242 to 247 of the Act) can be found here.

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