This chapter analyses the legal development of testamentary formalities in the eight Australian states and territories, and in New Zealand since colonisation. While the laws in these jurisdictions trace their origins to English law and the rigid formality of the Imperial Wills Act 1837, the current law is more relaxed and no longer requires strict compliance with testamentary formalities. The chapter explores gradual changes in the law, the move towards uniform succession laws in the Australian jurisdictions and, in particular, the Court's power in both countries to excuse any of the testamentary formalities aside from the need for a document. Slight differences in the wording of this power may allow non-compliant wills to be validated more readily in New Zealand than in Australia.
Keywords: testation rate; will formalities; special wills; wills of indigenous peoples; signing requirements; witnessing requirements; dispensing power; validation power.
Chapter. 14950 words.
Subjects: Company and Commercial Law
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