In March 2012 the Commission was asked by the Attorney-General to conduct a review of the laws of succession. The Victorian review followed a nationwide project conducted by the National Committee for Uniform Succession Laws.
The purpose of the review was to ensure that Victorian law operates justly, fairly and in accordance with community expectations.
In conducting the review, the Commission was mindful of changes in community expectations arising from increasingly complex family structures, longer life spans and a more accessible legal system. The Commission considered how well succession laws protect will-makers from undue influence, recognise their significant relationships, safeguard the rights of beneficiaries and creditors and ensure that estates are not depleted by unnecessary or unreasonable costs.
The Commission published six short consultation papers, each dealing with a separate issue in succession law. Links to these papers are below.
The Commission received 46 submissions, and consulted widely.
The Commission's report was tabled in Parliament on 15 October 2013. The report contains 78 recommendations to reform the law.
The recommendations aim to:
- reduce the costs of administering small estates, making it easier and cheaper to administer an estate when a person dies.
- make the law clearer about which family members can challenge a will under family provision laws.
- make the commissions and costs charged by executors more transparent, and provide new avenues for resolving disputes.
- provide better public information to help will-makers, administrators and executors of wills.
- bring Victoria in line with other states in relation to various succession laws.
You can download the report, and other documents related to the inquiry, from the links below.
In 2014 the Justice Legislation Amendment (Succession and Surrogacy) Bill was introduced into Parliament. Part 1 (Preliminary) and Part 6 (Surrogacy) came into operation on 30 October 2014. The remaining provisions of the Justice Legislation Amendment (Succession and Surrogacy) Act 2015 came into operation on 1 July 2015.
The main purpose of the Act is to amend the Administration and Probate Act 1958 (Vic) in relation to:
- family provision claims
- the rules for the payment of debts of an estate
- the administration of small estates, and
- to amend the court authorised wills scheme in the Wills Act 1997.
Other amendments have been made in relation to surrogacy law.
The aim of the Act is to ensure that Victorian succession laws operate justly, fairly and in accordance with community expectations in relation to the way that property is dealt with after a person dies. The Act implements a number of recommendations from the Commission’s final report, including The Commission’s recommendations on statutory wills, small estates and the payment of debts, among others.
In November 2016 the government introduced further reforms based on the Commission's recommendations in the areas of intestacy, executors' fees and ademption. The proposed changes to the law will ensure that when a person dies without a will, their partner will gain a greater share of the estate to ensure they are provided for. It also provides additional safeguards against estates being depleted by executors' fees.