Why Last Wills Matter – Exploring the Radecki & Fairbairn Case

Why Last Wills Matter - Exploring the Radecki & Fairbairn Case

Anticipating the unexpected is an integral part of jointly planning your future. A “last will” and other estate planning papers are critical to ensuring that your final estate is distributed according to your preferences and protecting your other future beneficiaries. 

Many individuals include a significant other in their last will and estate to prove dedication and relationship. For most, it is merely a milestone that marriage goes through. But remember that if your marital status changes, you should revise your last will. You might also consider how much you want this individual to inherit from you, regardless of your feelings for them.

Read on to learn more about the case of Radecki & Fairbairn [2020] Fam CAFC 307 and the Court’s attitude on de facto partnerships.

Radecki & Fairbairn: In Bullet Points

  • Under the provisions of Mrs Fairbairn’s will, Mr Radecki was allowed to reside in her townhouse for six months after her death.
  • Mrs Fairbairn had dementia and was unable to make cognitive decisions.
  • Her children hired a trustee to file a lawsuit against Mr Radecki to collect cash for Mrs Fairbairn’s treatment.
  • Mr Radecki suggested that Mrs Fairbairn’s pension be used to cover her medical expenses.
  • Mr Radecki and Mrs Fairbairn have set up numerous legal entities to protect their separate property ownership.
  • Mrs Fairbairn attempted to set up a life estate for Mr Radecki (to have ownership of the townhouse as long as he lived, but then upon death, it will be granted back to a person of Mrs Fairbairn choosing).
  • The first judge ruled that Mr Radecki had lost all legal power over Mrs Fairbairn’s inheritance due to their relationship’s breakdown (deviating from her wishes from the original Will).

Radecki & Fairbairn: De Facto Relationship

The reevaluation prioritised Mr Radecki’s relationship with Mrs Fairnairn. This judgment was made by the Appeal Judge based on substantial evidence. In the initial assessment, Mrs Fairbairn’s Trustee said that Mr Radecki had neglected to contribute to Mrs Fairbairn’s healthcare, which was negligent toward her and their relationship. According to the Appeal, Mr Radecki was judged to have contributed during the previous year.

Mr Radecki’s first request to use a portion of Mrs Fairnairn’s superannuation to pay for her healthcare accommodations was denied by Mrs Fairnairn’s Trustee. The Appeal Judge stated that there was explicit conduct creating an ongoing de facto connection. It established that the parties were still in a loving relationship.

Finally, Mrs Fairnairn’s most recent valid will, which allowed Mr Radecki to dwell in the home for six months after her death, refused to enable Mr Radecki to live there. The Appeal Judge had a different view, assuming that the relationship had been severed. Mrs Fairnairn does not want Mr Radecki to live there. Including that in her will shows that she intended to keep the de facto partnership going.

Radecki & Fairbairn: The Final Verdict

The Appeal Judge determined that Mr Radecki’s evidence indicates a divide was highly credible. They may, however, indicate the existence of conflicts and fights between the couple, but not enough to warrant the end of the partnership. The appeal was allowed, and the initial verdict was overturned.

Conclusion

While a will has many benefits, it should also be explicit and unambiguous. Here, we see that the Radecki & Fairbairn [2020] Fam CAFC 307 demonstrates the need to correctly and thoroughly written a will. Due to familial circumstances, wills are usually uncomplicated. You can, however, specify who should get your legacy and how much money they should receive. If you die without a will, the law will ultimately govern how your estate is divided.

Are you looking for family lawyers in Redland Bay? Bickell & Mackenzie offers professional services to bereaved families. With the support of our work, we aim to deliver quality service and peace of mind to our clients and their loved ones. Speak with our team today!

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