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3 thought-provoking estate planning cases

3 thought-provoking estate planning cases

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There has been a surge in controversial Australian Estate Planning cases of late, three of which highlight the need for a comprehensive estate plan. Cleardocs promotes a flexible and long term approach to protecting assets, offering comprehensive estate planning documents through its online automated document generation service.


Maddocks lawyers have written articles for Cleardocs’ legal bulletin, ClearLaw, on the three cases. These demonstrate that a poorly drafted estate plan can fail to truly secure beneficiaries’ entitlements and result in a substantial financial cost to them by way of family disputes. We have extracted from the ClearLaw articles below.


Hancock v Rinehart[i]

The much publicised Hancock v Rinehart family dispute over control of the Hope Margaret Hancock Trust (a family trust) covers key issues for trustees and beneficiaries to consider. Gina Rinehart was appointed trustee of the trust after the death of her father, and she was successfully accused of breaching her duties as trustee.


Munro v Munro[ii]

The recent Supreme Court of Queensland case of Munro v Munro is a reminder of the need to take care when nominating who is to receive a member's superannuation benefits — particularly around payments to a member's estate — to ensure they bind the fund's trustee.

The case also touched on the issue of whether binding death benefit nominations can last indefinitely.


Ioppolo & Hesford v Conti[iii]

The Western Australian Supreme Court case of Ioppolo & Hesford v Conti highlights the special issues involved in estate planning where superannuation, and in particular an SMSF, is involved. In this case, a wife passed away with a Will in place which directed her superannuation to be paid to her children. Her Will specifically stated that she did not want any of her superannuation to be paid to her husband. However, on her death, her husband assumed control of the SMSF and caused her entire superannuation benefit to be paid to himself. The deceased's children failed to overturn the trustee's decision to pay the superannuation benefit to the husband.


Is your estate plan as comprehensive as you think?

Cleardocs users receive legal document creation time-saving benefits like:

  • 24/7 access to over 175 ready-to-sign documents;
  • access to a document creation interface that’s both quick and easy to use;
  • pay per use document creation;
  • sample documents; 
  • free online resources and FALQs; and
  • the ability to create, manage and store in the cloud.


The Cleardocs interface is easy to navigate, incorporating help text and useful resources. Please call their free helpline on 1300 307 343 to get started.


[i] [2015] NSWSC 646

[ii] [2015] QSC 61.

[iii] [2013] WASC 389.

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3 thought-provoking estate planning cases
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