Deed of Disclaimer or Renunciation of Benefits on Intestacy in Australia

Australian Capital Territory
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Northern Territory
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Can you Disclaim or Renounce an Entitlement on Intestacy?

Any Beneficiary on Intestacy is free to disclaim or renounce the benefit [1] at anytime after (not before) the deceased passes away.

The Embedded Lawyer-Logic within this automated document:

❌ Will STOP you from continuing and direct you to contact our legal team if you attempt to generate the document whilst the Estate Owner is still alive.

Why would you want to do this?

There could be many potential reasons you would want to do this including the following:

⚖️ A decision not to take anything from the deceased's estate on principle or other personal reasons;

⚖️ To reject your statutory share of the estate because it has negative equity (the debt against the estate's assets are greater than the value of the estate).

What about Centrelink?

An inheritance will enlarge a Beneficiaries assets, and therefore affect a person's claim for social security benefits (if any).

❌ Centrelink will not allow a Beneficiary to keep his or her estate small by disclaiming an inheritance — the disclaimer will be treated as a gift from the Beneficiary and be subject to the social security gifting provisions.

✅ A one-off inheritance may be exempted from the income test: Centrelink should be consulted.

What is the Legal Effect?

When a benefit upon Intestacy is disclaimed or renounced, the statutory distribution is ineffective and passes to the next eligible heris under the relevant local laws of Intestacy.

Any disclaimer or renunciation becomes irrevocable once it has been relied upon.

If an heir has previously accepted the benefit, they cannot subsequently disclaim or renounce the benefit.

Is Legal Advice Required?

We strongly recommend that you contact us to obtain professional legal advice before disclaiming a benefit.

Notes:

1️⃣ Disclaimer may be a disposal for tax, family or bankruptcy purposes, and may have social security implications.

2️⃣ Disclaimer may attract state/territory stamp duty (this is particularly so if an interest in real estate is being disclaimed).

Footnotes

[1] Estate of Simmons (1990) 56 SASR 1.

Source: Hutley's Australian Wills Precedents 9th Edition by Craig Birtles & Richard Neal.

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Whilst it is acknowledged that the legal document templates provided by the majority of [non law-firm] Australian legal document providers will generally have been prepared by lawyers and that the templates they sell are updated from time to time as required by legislative changes.

This does not change the fact that you are not dealing directly with a law firm.

In order to understand what this means from a practical perspective you need to ask the following questions …

What happens?

🧩 If and when you have a legal question?

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Lastly, what happens if you are not directly involved in the creation of the legal document?

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To help you answer this question, please read our FAQ: If I create a legal document for my client on your law firm’s website am I giving legal advice or am I a "mere scribe"?

General Answer

A general answer is that online [non-law firm] Australian Legal Document providers are unable to assist clients directly, as they are unable to provide legal advice.

Certain [non-law firm] providers have adopted a business model whereby they earn a substantial ongoing 12 months+ plus referral fee for directing a client to a large directory of law firms who can assist.

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We submit that one way or another, it is ultimately the client who pays for the cost of the referral fee as it increases the cost of doing business for the law firm providing the service to them.

Feedback obtained directly from businesses who have used certain [non-law firm] online services

The valuable feedback we have  obtained is that:

❌ The quality of the online legal documents are basic, non-adaptive templates; such that

❌ The client is more often than not, required to seek assistance from a law firm in order to ensure their legal requirements are met.

As lawyers are required to undertake client interviews and make manual amendments to the legal documents, the final cost ends up much higher than the client could have anticipated, especially when the original online legal document was given away for free or at a nominal cost.

These kinds of business models may not rise to the level of bait & switch, however they may be found to constitute misleading and deceptive conduct.

In our submission, clients appear to be lead to believe that in the majority of cases they will be able to use the standard online documents without the need to engage a law firm to assist, when in actual fact this is not the case.

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Credits:

This FAQ was created by James D. Ford GAICD | Principal Solicitor, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

Important Notice:

This FAQ is intended for general interest + information only.

It is not legal advice, nor should it be relied upon or used as such.

We recommend you always consult a lawyer for legal advice specifically tailored to your needs & circumstances.

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This FAQ was written by James D. Ford GAICD | Principal Solicitor, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

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This FAQ was written by James D. Ford GAICD | Principal Solicitor, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

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Our [Self-Service] legal documents are designed to be completed "without the intervention of a lawyer".

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Credits:

This FAQ was written by James D. Ford GAICD | Principal Solicitor, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

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This FAQ was written by James D. Ford GAICD | Principal Solicitor, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

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Our Legal Documents Portal uses 4096-bit SSL encryption.

A Future Proof Security Solution

The following has been extracted from a JScape's website article answering the question: "Should we start using 4096 bit …?"

In case you're curious where we got the idea of 2048-bit encryption keys being safe to use until 2030, check out the NIST Special Publication 800-57 Part1.
In Table 2 of that document, it says 2048-bit RSA keys are roughly equivalent to a Security Strength of 112.
Security strength is simply a number associated with the amount of work required to break a cryptographic algorithm.
Basically, the higher that number, the greater the amount of work required.
A future proof security solution can mitigate the risk of cyber threats.
We know that cyber criminals are always one step ahead of security professionals, so we're not 100% sure 2048-bit keys are going to remain unbreakable before 2030.

How secure is 4096-bit encryption?

It was once said:

It would take the combined processing power of every computer in the world thousands of years to crack 4096-bit encryption.

You could be the weakest link. Be Vigilant!

Hackers will always look for the weakest link, which is usually a person who makes an error which opens up a gap in an otherwise secure system.

In a more general context (outside of encrypted secure website traffic/data) it has also been said:

Data with 4096-bit encryption (only protected by a password) could still be compromised within seconds.
How? Human error.
Easy pass-phrase, written down password, re-used password... etc. basically, always be on the lookout for the weakest link.
Trust the technology, but never trust the weak link - the user!

Credits:

This FAQ was written by James D. Ford GAICD | Principal Solicitor, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

Why does Blue Ocean Law Group℠ use a *.law website domain?

What is a *.law web domain?

⚖️ *.law is a top-level-domain (TLD) that aims to:

Promote trust in the professional legal community by creating a:

✅ Verified;

✅ Exclusive; and

✅ Reserved online space in which only accredited lawyers and law firms can establish a comprehensive digital brand.

✅ Website users can have confidence they are dealing with an authorised and licensed lawyer/law firm.

✅ *.law offers effective branding to those in the legal community, with the ability to secure a domain name that clearly communicates who you are + the legal resources you provide.

All about *.law domain names

Source: join.law - Why *.law?

Creating Legal Docs for clients. Is this giving legal advice?

When you create Legal Docs for Clients. Is this considered giving legal advice? or is your role that of a mere scribe?

If your role is merely that of a "scribe or scrivener" as outlined below it is unlikely you would be deemed to be providing legal advice or engaging in the practice of law.

Caution: Some Online Legal Documents have evolved!

Unfortunately this is not as easy as it once was … when online legal document templates were all static "fill in the blanks" one-size-fits-all templates.

Increasingly, the capabilities + complexities of legal document automation have evolved to cater to an ever widening range of facts and conditions.

Using the complex design + incorporation of what we call Embedded-Lawyer Logic it is no longer possible to avoid the automated tailoring of the online legal document to suit the client's circumstances + legal needs.

They are designed to produce a quality bespoke legal document just like a lawyer does.

The use of Embedded-Lawyer-Logic™ in the online process:

✅ Is now very similar to a client being interviewed by a lawyer;

✅ It drills down to ask the same questions and provide the same options a highly experienced + competent lawyer is required to do.

As a result the draft legal document created now has the potential to vary significantly based on the responses provided by the client.

We have now progressed to the point that the new normal online process is designed to cause your role to fall outside of the role of a "scribe or scrivener" alluded to below.

In the leading case on this issue Legal Practice Board v Computer Accounting and Tax Pty Ltd [2007] WASC 184; 35 WAR 59 (Simmonds J) noted at para. [152] that Brinsden J in Barristers Board v Palm Management Pty Ltd [1984] WAR 101 referred to Re Matthews (1938) 79 P 2d 535, apparently with approval, as follows at para. [108]*:

The court went on to say that where an instrument is to be shaped from a mass of facts and conditions, the legal effect of which must be carefully determined by a mind trained in the existing law in order to ensure a specific result and to guard against others, more than the knowledge of the layman is required and a charge for such services brings it definitely within the term 'practice of the law' [emphasis added].

How to limit your role to that of a "scribe or scrivener"?

Therefore, we strongly recommend that you advise your client to either:

✅ Create the draft legal document themselves + ensure independent legal advice is sought from our legal team prior to negotiation and execution; or

✅ Instruct you to create the legal documents using our Lawyer-Assisted option.

Doing this ensures your role is clearly limited to that of a "scribe or scrivener".

Our legal team will then take the responsibility for reviewing your client's individual circumstances together with the draft legal document in order to provide your client with the relevant legal advice, ensure your client understands their legal position and options, and to propose and make any required amendments to the legal document based on your client's instructions.

What is a "mere scribe or scrivener"?

In Legal Practice Board v Computer Accounting and Tax Pty Ltd [supra]*:

… the court held that work of the mere clerical kind, such as filling out of skeletal blanks or drawing instruments of generally recognised and stereotype forms effectuating the conveyance or encumbrance of property, such as a simple deed or mortgage not involving the determination of the legal effect of special facts and conditions, should be generally regarded as the legitimate right of any layman because it involves nothing more or less than the clerical operations of the now almost obsolete scrivener (emphasis added).
(The scrivener was eliminated in England by the 1804 Act.).

The view of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia ... ^

Timely reminder

The 2007 case of the Legal Practice Board v. Computer Accounting and Tax Pty Ltd* serves as a timely reminder to members that there are legislative provisions in each state and territory which prohibit a person who is not a legal practitioner from engaging in legal practice.
This prohibition is mirrored in the Institute’s regulations relating to public practice (regulation 1207).
However, there are differences between the jurisdictions as to how the prohibition is framed.  

Even so, members who use the services of document providers are urged, as a minimum, to:
✅ Use only reputable document providers whose services are backed by competent legal practitioners;
✅ Ensure that they abide by the terms and conditions of the document providers as to the use of the documents and their supply to clients; and
✅ Avoid redrafting of documents to suit the circumstances of individual clients, unless appropriate legal advice is obtained by the relevant parties.

Seek legal advice

The Institute believes that the recent WA case does not require any change to a member's legitimate use of this type of service in accordance with their terms and conditions.
However, if you have any concerns or queries about the use of document providers, you should seek legal advice.

Sources:

* Legal Practice Board v Computer Accounting and Tax Pty Ltd [2007] WASC 184;

^ Extracted from the article: Court case raises issues about preparation of legal documents.

Credits:

This FAQ was created by James D. Ford GAICD | Principal Solicitor, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

Important Notice:

This FAQ is intended for general interest + information only.

It is not legal advice, nor should it be relied upon or used as such.

We recommend you always consult a lawyer for legal advice specifically tailored to your needs & circumstances.

How to Verify a Trax Print Protected Document?

How do I Verify the Authenticity of a Trax Print Protected Legal Document?

You can use any of the following Trax Print Document Verification Methods

1️⃣ Double-Click to Verify the Details of the Document

Note: You can find the Trax Print QR Code on the bottom of the first, last or every page, depending upon the preference set by the author of the document.

✅ By way of example, Double-Click on the below sample Trax Print QR Code within the PDF document:

You will be taken to the TraxPrint.com website and a message similar to the following will appear:

2️⃣ Email to Verify the Contents of the Document

The ability to email a document for automated verification has never been done before.

The Trax Print Email Verification Process

✅ Send an email with the PDF document attached to check@blueocean.law

The Trax Print system checks the Trax Code and compares the entire document to the one that was originally protected.

Trax Print will detect even a one pixel difference within a 1000 page document.

❌ If the PDF document is not authentic a reply email rejecting the document will be send back to you.

If the PDF document is authentic, you will receive a reply email with the following attached:

✅ Certificate of Authenticity (including our law firm details & the timestamp of when the document was Trax Print Protected); + 

✅ The Original Trax Print Protected document.

Try it Yourself

🌊 Email check@blueocean.law with any random PDF document attached (that is not Trax Print Protected).

🌊 Then send a second separate email to check@blueocean.law with one of our Trax Print Protected PDF's attached.

For example:

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3️⃣ Scan to Verify the Contents of the Document

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Register + Sign-in to the App then ✅ Scan the Trax Print QR Code to Verify.

4️⃣ Drag n' Drop to Verify the Contents of the Document

✅ Drag n' Drop the PDF Document File into the designated area.

You will receive an instant response regarding the authenticity of the document.

This feature is coming soon and we aim to make it available via a dedicated page on our website.

Further Reading: Are your Legal + Identity Documents Securely Trax Print Protected to Provide Fraud + Litigation Prevention? ➲ It's a no-brainer!

Credits:

This FAQ was created by James D. Ford GAICD | Principal Solicitor, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

Important Notice:

This FAQ is intended for general interest + information only.

It is not legal advice, nor should it be relied upon or used as such.

We recommend you always consult a lawyer for legal advice specifically tailored to your needs & circumstances.

Can I create a Legal Document from my phone?

Yes, you can create a Legal Document from your phone

The below iPhone 12 screen shots demonstrate what we mean by "^anywhere (even from your mobile phone, if necessary)".

iPhone 12: Portrait Mode
iPhone 12: Landscape Mode

Credits:

This FAQ was created by James D. Ford GAICD | Principal Solicitor, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

Important Notice:

This FAQ is intended for general interest + information only.

It is not legal advice, nor should it be relied upon or used as such.

We recommend you always consult a lawyer for legal advice specifically tailored to your needs & circumstances.

Glossary ➲ Probate / Administration in Australia

Key Terms used in the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration in Australia

Administrator

A person appointed by the Supreme Court to administer a deceased estate when the deceased has not left a Will, or if they have for some reason the nominated executor is unable to or does not wish to act.

Administrator cta

When "cta" is appended to Administrator, an abbreviation of the Latin phrase cum testamento annexo is being added which translates to mean that the Grant of Administration / Letters of Administration is being made "with the Will annexed".  

This is an unusual situation as generally it is assumed that when an Administrator is appointed there is no Will.

For this to occur, the Will needs to be incomplete, such as is the case where:

❌ No Executor is named; or

❌ The appointed executor has since become incapacitated, or does not wish to act as executor.

When either of the above occur, an application may be made to the Probate Court to appoint someone else.

If the Probate Court approves the application, it grants what is called "Letters of Administration with the will annexed", sometimes written as "Letters of Administration cta’".

Affidavit

An Affidavit is a sworn or affirmed written statement, that is made on oath by a person setting out the facts relevant to their case.

The person making the Affidavit (called a deponent) must swear or affirm that everything said in it is true before a person authorised by law to administer oaths. 

Making a false statement in an Affidavit may subject the deponent to perjury charges.

Affidavit in Support

When an Affidavit is used to support an application to the Court.    

Affinity, Relationship of

Related by marriage.

Annex, Annexe

To attach, add or append.

Commorientes

Latin term referring to when people die together at the same time, and it is uncertain as to who died first.

Consanguinity

Latin term meaning all of the following: "shared blood" or a blood relationship, people who have descended from a common ancestor, the same blood line.  

Can be distinguished from a Relationship of affinity, which is being related to someone by marriage.

Deceased Estate

All the property (both real estate + personal property) a person owns in their sole name when they die.  

The estate of a deceased person is what the deceased has left, whether by their Will or under the statutory rules on Intestacy (applied when there is no Will).

Deed of Family Arrangement

An agreement (usually made in the form of a Deed) which sets out how property in the family is to be distributed.

Devolves, Devolution

The passing of rights, property from one person to another on the occurrence of an event, for example death.

Dispensing Power

The Probate Court has the power to dispense with the traditional formalities required by law to make a valid Will.  

This allows the Probate Court to exercise their discretion to Grant Probate for a document which supposedly expresses the deceased person’s testamentary intentions, but which for some reason they hadn’t signed, and/or witnessed, according to the traditional formalities required by law.

Executor de son tort

Meaning a person who acted "as if" they were the legally appointed Executor/Administrator, when they were not.

The Latin term "de son tort" means "of his/her own wrong".

The person who does this is liable to account to the beneficiaries and creditors of the deceased estate for any losses caused by their actions.

Financial Statements

Records of all financial transactions during the period of administering the deceased’s estate must be kept by the Executor/s.  

When the administration has been completed the Executor/s then provide each beneficiary with a copy of the financial statements.

Grant of Probate

See Probate.

Originating Process

Documents which are used to commence legal proceedings in a court.

Partial Intestacy

When a Will does not effectively dispose of all of the deceased’s property, or the Will is ambiguously worded such that part of the estate is not capable of being dealt with effectively.

Probate

A process by which the Will or a document alleged to be the Will of a deceased person is proven to be valid according to law.  

A Grant of Probate is an official document certified and issued by the Probate Court as evidence that the Court has recognised and confirmed the authority of the person/s named as Executor/s to go ahead and deal with the deceased estate according to the deceased’s Will, and distribute their assets and property, both real and personal.

Grant of Probate must normally occur before the Executor/s can obtain title to the property forming the deceased estate, that is before “calling in ” the deceased’s assets.

If there is no Will the deceased has died Intestate and in such circumstances an Administrator is appointed and instead of a Grant of Probate they are granted Letters of Administration / Administration.

Probate Court

➲ The Probate Court is a specialist division of the Supreme Court, in each state and territory.

Representation

A term more commonly used to refer collectively to Grants of Probate or Administration.

Reseal of Probate

If a deceased had assets in different states of Australia or in certain countries, namely Commonwealth countries where the Queen is the head of state, then it is generally possible to have a Grant of Probate issued by a Court in one jurisdiction recognised in another state or country.

This process of recognising the grant made in the other state or country is called resealing the grant.

NSW Reseal of Probate example:

Not all Grants from other countries can be resealed by the Supreme Court of NSW.

The Probate Court will only reseal Grants made in countries of the "Commonwealth Realm" where the Queen is, or was at the time of the grant, Head of State.

Such countries include the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

Recent grants from the following countries cannot be resealed: Malta, South Africa, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Hong Kong or The Republic of Ireland.

If a grant cannot be resealed then it may be necessary to apply for a new Grant of Probate in NSW.

Solemn Form

Sometimes a Grant of Probate cannot be made because there is some issue or dispute about the Will.

Once the issue / dispute has been resolved by the Probate Court it may then issue a Grant of Probate in solemn form.  

The words "solemn form" indicate that Court proceedings have taken place and the dispute is now resolved.

When Charitable Gifts fail ➲ Courts may grant Cy Pres Orders

Charitable Gifts fail for many reasons

For many reasons, especially given the potentially infinite life-span of a Charitable Trusts, it may well find itself with insufficient funds to achieve it's stated charitable purposes, in other words the Charitable Gift fails!

If the Charitable Trust has been set up by an experienced lawyer, the trustee of the Charitable Trust will have an express power of amendment to alter the terms such that it's objectives match it's restated charitable purposes.

What is a Charitable Trust?

A Charitable Trust can be defined as:

“A purpose trust that is directed to exclusively charitable purposes [1] and that exhibits public benefit [2]"

Charitable Trusts need not have any vesting date, and may exist in perpetuity

A trust is a Charitable Trust when it is established for charitable purposes (objects), which can be quite general (for example for the relief of poverty) or highly specific (for example the construction of a hospital to treat + conduct cancer research).

The Court may use its discretion to grant Cy Pres Orders

If this is not the case, the trustee of a Charitable Trust is under an obligation to apply to the Court for an Order to enable property to be applied Cy Pres, or be at risk of personal liability by acting in breach of trust.

In much the same way, the Executor of a Will may find themselves in a similar situation, where the estate is not sufficient to give effect to the Willmaker's charitable gift, or simply because the nominated charity no longer exists, or there is more than one charity to select from because the Will has not been specific enough when naming the charity [3].

Cy Pres (pronounced “Sigh Pray”) is a phrase adopted from the French meaning, “as near as possible” to the original intention.

Under the Cy Pres Doctrine the Court will take account of all the facts and circumstances, and if they can determine that the gift was made with a general charitable intent, they may exercise their discretion to make appropriate Cy Pres orders.

Footnotes:

[1] Leahy v A-G (NSW) (1959) 101 CLR 611.

[2] Attorney-General (NSW) v Perpetual Trustee Co Ltd (1940) 63 CLR 209).” (Encyclopaedic Australian Legal Dictionary, Lexis Advance).

[3] Estate of Polykarpou; Re a Charity [2016] NSWSC 409

Credits:

This FAQ was written by James D. Ford GAICD | Principal Solicitor, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

Important Notice:

This FAQ is intended for general interest + information only.

It is not legal advice, nor should it be relied upon or used as such.

We recommend you always consult a lawyer for legal advice specifically tailored to your needs & circumstances.