Will-Making Prevalence and Patterns in Australia: Keeping It in the Family

Australian Journal of Social Issues, 50(3), pp. 319-338, 2015

18 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2016

See all articles by Cheryl Tilse

Cheryl Tilse

University of Queensland

Jill Wilson

University of Queensland

Ben White

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law

Linda Rosenman

University of Queensland

Rachel Feeney

University of Queensland

Date Written: 2015

Abstract

This article provides evidence of the prevalence of wills and the principles underpinning the intended distribution of estates in Australia. Intentions around wealth transfers and the social norms that underpin them occur in the context of predicted extensive intergenerational transfers from the ageing baby boomer generation, policies of self provision and user pays for care in old age, broader views on what constitutes ‘family’, the increased importance of the not-for-profit sector in the delivery of services, and the related need for philanthropy. A national telephone survey conducted in 2012 with 2,405 respondents aged 18 and over shows that wills are predominantly used to distribute assets to partners and/or equally to immediate descendants. There is little evidence that will makers are recognising a wider group of relationships, obligations and entitlements outside the traditional nuclear family, or that wills are being replaced by other mechanisms of wealth transfer. Only a minority consider bequests to charities as important. These findings reflect current social norms about entitlements to ‘family’ money, a narrow view of what and who constitutes ‘family’, limited obligation for testators to recompense individuals or organisations for care and support provided, and limited commitment to charitable organisations and civil society.

Keywords: Wills, Inheritance, Intergenerational transfers, Family, Charity

Suggested Citation

Tilse, Cheryl and Wilson, Jill and White, Ben and Rosenman, Linda and Feeney, Rachel, Will-Making Prevalence and Patterns in Australia: Keeping It in the Family (2015). Australian Journal of Social Issues, 50(3), pp. 319-338, 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2806737

Cheryl Tilse

University of Queensland ( email )

St Lucia
Brisbane, Queensland 4072
Australia

Jill Wilson

University of Queensland ( email )

St Lucia
Brisbane, Queensland 4072
Australia

Ben White (Contact Author)

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://staff.qut.edu.au/staff/whiteb/

Linda Rosenman

University of Queensland ( email )

St Lucia
Brisbane, Queensland 4072
Australia

Rachel Feeney

University of Queensland ( email )

St Lucia
Brisbane, Queensland 4072
Australia

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