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How the King of the Mountain cut the wrong corners

As a v8 supercar fanatic I, like many other Australians, was recently glued to the television as the beasts of the road made their annual pilgrimage to the Bathurst 1000. Known for its range of technical variations and grueling length, the race is one of not only skill but endurance and no driver knew this better than King of the Mountain "Peter Perfect" (Peter Brock).

In 2006 Brock tragically passed away at a race meet, leaving behind a number of family members to deal with his estate. Given his professional racing success throughout his life, many would assume that Brock had made arrangements to get his legal affairs in order. Sadly, this was not the case.

Whilst Brock had attempted on a number of occasions to put together a Will, he had not sought legal advice, instead opting to prepare a do-it-yourself Will in 2003 which nominated an executor but left the rest blank for his then wife, Bev Brock, to fill in later. The Will was signed by Peter but only had one witness.

Peter then attempted to update his Will in 2006, at which point he had been in a new relationship with Julie Bamford for some time. A Will was prepared by Peter's PA but never signed.

Following Peter's death, legal action was taken to determine which Will was his last. The Court ultimately found that the 2006 Will (having not been signed) was not valid and that the 2003 Will was the document to rely on but without any details in the Will about who received what from the estate, the Court was forced to divide the estate in accordance with intestacy rules.

Peter's children would receive the estate, but his partner and her son would miss out. Unsurprisingly, Julie Bamford subsequently lodged a claim for provision from the estate, which was settled outside of Court.

Despite his best intentions, Brock's estate ended up giving his family more headaches than solutions. Brock joins many other famous celebrities who failed to get their Will properly in place including Martin Luther King Jnr, Heath Ledger and more recently, Aretha Franklin.

We all want to ensure that our families are looked after should the unexpected happen to us, so don't put it off or risk it all with a do-it-yourself Will. Why would you do a tune-up on your car when you're not a mechanic? You should see a qualified estate planning lawyer to ensure that your wishes are fulfilled.

This article was written by Associate Michael Mobberley.

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