Legal cartoons and humorous comment (c) Paul Brennan. All rights reserved.

I decided on 101 reasons as I didn’t want to depress the entire legal profession by having 1,001.
Paul Brennan, Lawyer, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

# 89 They make poor spouses

Intestacy - the dead end

Legal Cartoon, suicide bombers,  Paul BrennanDear John
My elderly cousin is dying and it looks as if I am the closest relative. He will not make a will as he hates lawyers-he used to be married to one. But he says that he wants me to inherit. He is worth a few bob and his property is in various states and countries.

DT. Sydney

Dear DT

Clearly, your cousin has been traumatised by his choice of spouse. This is not uncommon.

There is a certain pecking order where the deceased does not leave a will. It starts off with spouses and children, then often parents, brothers and sisters, nieces, nephews and finally government coffers. But, it is a list, like a shopping list and if you are not on the list however deserving your claim may be in your view, you lose out. 

What happens if you are illegitimate? Whereas illegitimate children are usually quite acceptable these days, illegitimate cousins are unlikely to make the list.

Some countries or states may not recognize the right of a cousin to be in the pecking order, at all. This could mean that you would not inherit property located in that state or country.

Therefore, it is important that you research where the assets are located and encourage your cousin to sell any inconveniently located assets.  Your lawyer can help you with this paperwork.

It may be necessary to relocate your cousin to a more convenient jurisdiction which fully recognises your claim.  If he is awkward and dying rich relatives can often be particularly miserable, it is best to leave the transfer to the last minute in order to minimise any unpleasant scenes. 

What happens if he dies in transit?  Well, it depends if anybody notices.


(c) Paul Brennan 2010.  Extract from John Fytit’s International Legal Problem Page. Now written on this blog.

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