Wills & Estates
Wills and Estates is a complex area of law that many people take for granted or find too complex to deal with. In a world of valuable or significant superannuation entitlements, one or more marriages during a lifetime and complicated commercial interests it is important to seek expert, technical advice on how you would like your affairs to be handled and your assets distributed in the event of your death or permanent disability. Too often what people think will happen when they pass is not the actual outcome. Our role is to understand your wishes and to prepare your estate plan accordingly. Our team will guide and advise you about the best course to follow.
Estate planning is a way of ensuring that, after your death, your estate is passed on to your beneficiaries in the most financially efficient and tax effective way possible. It will also assist in avoiding the possibility of your next of kin suffering any adverse financial consequences, and minimise the risk of family disputes about who will receive a benefit from your estate. Whether you require an estate plan, and what type of plan, depends on your family and your financial situation. We look at how you can get the most use and enjoyment out of your assets while you are alive, as well as adequately and securely providing for your nominated beneficiaries after you pass.
Administration of Deceased Estates
When a person passes away, their instructions for dividing up and passing on their estate are given in a Will. It is important that your Will not only sets out your wishes in clear terms, but it is valid and legally enforceable. Your Will also contains your choice of executor, whose job it is to administer your estate. Often an executor will need help from a lawyer to help administer the estate. Some Wills even appoint a lawyer as the executor. The lawyer's professional duty is to help the executor carry out his or her duties in the estate in accordance with the law and the terms of the Will.
Enduring Power of Attorney
Life is often complicated and does not always go the way we would like. Sickness, accidents, even being out of the country can be a problem when decisions concerning your financial affairs need to be made. By appointing a trusted family member or personal friend by means of Enduring Power of Attorney, you can cover any eventuality and ensure that your financial affairs and those of others who may be affected are properly managed in the event that you are unable to do this for yourself.
Do you have someone you can trust to make health care and lifestyle decisions for you if you become severely incapacitated? Enduring Guardianship authorises someone to make those difficult personal decisions that you would usually want to make but may be prevented from doing so due to a lack of capacity. Your Enduring Guardian can authorise consent for medical treatment, health care decisions and other decisions including admission to a nursing home. Not every person will need to appoint an Enduring Guardian, and we are able to provide the appropriate legal advice to suit each individual's needs.
Contesting a Will
In some situations, a Will can be challenged after a person dies. If the Will is valid and a person believes they have not adequately been provided for, they can make an application to the Supreme Court after the death of the person who made the Will. Only limited classes of people can challenge a Will, and time limits apply. It is important to ensure that your Will is correctly made and to obtain legal advice in order to avoid or reduce the possibility of any possible challenges to your Will.
Executors also need sound advice if a Will they have been asked to administer is contested. Our team of probate and estate lawyers can advise and guide executors through this challenging process.