On 5 June 2017 the Succession Act 1981 (Qld) (the Act) was amended to put de facto spouses and stepchildren on the same footing as married couples and children.

End of a De Facto Relationship

This has a significant impact on your estate plan in the event of a breakdown of a de facto relationship. If your de facto relationship has come to an end since your last Will was made then any gifts made to your former de facto, as well as any appointments made (such as being an executor or trustee) will be revoked (unless a contrary intention appeared in your Will).

This may be exactly what you want, however unlike with a divorce, it can be very difficult to prove exactly when and if, a de facto relationship has come to an end. There are many cases where this has been disputed, and estate costs can spiral.

A de facto partner has the right to claim on your estate, and it can be easy for a former partner to say that they were your de facto after you pass away.

Step Children Have Estate Rights

At law, certain people can make a claim against your estate for further provision if they have not been adequately provided for from your estate. These include spouses (married and de facto), children and stepchildren.

Until the law changed this year, a step child of your de facto relationship could not make a claim against your estate where their parent (your de facto partner) died first. This is because the step child relationship was considered to end on the passing of their parent of the relationship.

However, the recent amendments now make it clear that, in relation to de facto couples, the relationship of a step-child and step-parent only ends on the ending of a de facto relationship between the deceased and the stepchild’s parent while both are living. That is, the children of your deceased de facto partner will still be considered your stepchildren, provided that you were still in a de facto relationship with their parent at the time of their passing.