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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.3/93495
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- Estate transmission and post mortem charitable giving in Australia
- Baker, Christopher
- Bequeathing money or assets to others is a process that is common to many societies. Some of the transferring wealth may be appropriated by the state via taxation, and some may be donated to community and social good purposes. Despite their importance for individuals, families and for the society in which they take place, estate transfers and associated charitable giving practices have been largely overlooked in scholarly investigation. This exploratory study uses previously unutilised sources to investigate patterns and influences of estate transmission and charitable giving in Australia. It captures and analyses a random sample of more than 10 per cent of the probate files processed in Victoria, Australia in 2006 (N = 1,729). In addition, interviews with 21 intermediaries (professional fundraisers and advisers) working in the field provide complementary qualitative insights into the context in which probate decisions take place. My findings show that estate transmission decisions are anchored in the social and cultural milieu in which they are embedded. Australian estate transmission conventions are dominated by a hegemonic expectation for all or most of an estate to be bequeathed to immediate family members. This principle of familial primacy is articulated as 'look after the family first'. In practice it operates to the exclusion of all but the family. In the first instance estates go to the surviving spouse. In the absence of a spouse, estates go to the children in equal share, and lifetime charitable giving practices are displaced and over-ridden. Australian will-makers without surviving children are ten times more likely to make a charitable gift from their estate. This thesis contributes to an understanding of how estate transmission and charitable giving are not isolated and independent acts, but products of the complex interplay of the total social phenomena within which they take place. The focus on Australian data highlights the importance of specifically situating research into charitable giving in context and not assuming that research undertaken in one country can be assumed automatically or uncritically to be applicable in others.
- Publication type
- Thesis (PhD)
- Research centre
- Swinburne University of Technology. Faculty of Life and Social Sciences
- Publication year
- Australasian Digital Theses collection
- Copyright © 2010 Christopher Charles Baker.