(Last Updated On: March 1, 2017)
In Rhodes v Rhodes the Deceased made a will which said:
“ALL MY WORLDLY GOODS TO MY EX WIFE WHO WILL DISTRIBUTE IT TO MY CHILDREN AS SHE SEES FIT.”
Presumably, the Deceased and his ex-wife “got on well” (heard that before). They had 5 children together and the Deceased had one other child from another relationship.
So after he died, the ex-wife took the view that if she didn't distribute everything to the children, she could keep the rest.
The question was, was she right?
The Court ruled that no she couldn't: the words “will distribute it” meant that she had an obligation to do so. The words “as she sees fit” meant that she didn't have to treat the children equally (not as the ex-wife contended, that if she saw fit not to do so, she didn't have to distribute it).
The moral of the story:
1) Perhaps it's not always a good idea to make your ex-wife your executor;
2) It would have avoided legal fees in the tens of thousands of dollars by spending $400-$500.00 to get a solicitor to prepare the will making your intentions clear.
If you need a will, please contact us.