Interpretation of Testamentary Documents
Author: G.E. Dal Pont
Reviewer: Brian Morgan
Of recent years, I have not been briefed on many Probate matters but, in earlier times, I was quite active in that field. I should also offer the disclaimer that, though I do not know him well, I know Professor Dal Pont through my former association with the University of Tasmania Law School. Indeed, I doubt that he would even remember me as a former part time colleague.
Most solicitors or barristers who practise in this field encounter situations for which there is no available satisfactory answer other than to proceed to trial. This is particularly so when facing a family dispute wherein some would prefer that no one gain any benefit rather than that some gain something at the expense of themselves and are therefore very resistant to any resolution other than a trial.
We continue to be bombarded with advertisements promoting home wills. It seems to me that, no matter how many times we exhort people to have their will professionally drawn up, they still think that a home will can suffice. Even or, particularly, intelligent people think that, if they understand what the document means, everyone else will have the same understanding. Alas, this is, as we all know, incorrect.
Which brings one to this book, Interpretation of Testamentary Documents. I want to emphasise that this is a text for practitioners.
The book is divided into four parts, Principles, Property, Persons and Portions. The practitioner can use this book as a source to identify the relevant legal principle and then investigate how that principle applies to the problem under consideration whether it involves property, persons and/or portions.
Professor Dal Pont is renowned for his attention to detail and this is again obvious in this book.
He presents most comprehensive footnotes and case references going back to the 18th Century. Indeed, the footnotes often carry as much, if not more, information than the text, itself.
This is a scholarly attempt at providing a ready means of allowing lawyers to understand the correct approach to interpreting a testamentary document in any conceivable scenario. It is a detailed, helpful and informative tool for anyone who practises in the Probate jurisdiction.