Wills and Estate Services
Most of us want to leave the legacy of our life and efforts for the benefit of others when we die. Many of us, however, don’t do this very well.
The best way to do it is to have a good Will in place at all times. Not having a Will means that you either don’t care what happens when you die or you are happy for the law to prescribe what should happen to your assets when you experience your celestial transfer.
The other consequence of not having a Will or not having a good Will is that the real legacy you could leave is a family destroying dispute when someone decides to challenge your Will. The only beneficiary of this will be the lawyers and you usually don’t intend to benefit them when you die.
Life is also more complex these days and the old concept of your ‘estate’ isn’t what it used to be. Very few people now die leaving just a home and some money in the bank. Now we can leave personal assets, superannuation, life insurance, a family company or trust and even digital assets replete with usernames and passwords. All of these need careful planning for your passing as well.
These complexities also mean that the administration of your estate may also require expertise from people like us. The task of an executor to find and then distribute the estate after meeting all tax obligations is a demanding one and the assistance of experienced hands like ours can make the executor’s role less stressful, keep the beneficiaries happy and even save the estate unnecessary expense.
No matter what you do however, there may always be the prospect of a challenge to your Will. Not having a Will will also increase the prospect of a challenge to your estate. With the developing dynamics in family life these days including blended families, inter family financing, aged care and business succession, not to mention estranged children, there has been a significant increase in challenges to Wills. We are very good at advising people be they executors defending a Will or those who want to challenge a Will.
In the end, it is your choice as to how to pass on from this life and what effect you want to leave on your family. Doing nothing will do nothing for your family after you go and will almost inevitably lead to conflict and resentment. Doing something is always better but not just any something, but a good Will that meets both your circumstances and your aspirations. It’s your choice.
Planning for your death may seem a macabre and unpleasant task but we humans know one thing – death is inevitable and reincarnation is generally not possible. That means you only get one chance with this event. It’s all about doing your Will well.
Getting your Will (and other things) right is the best legacy you can leave and is one way to ensure that you don’t leave a family implosion or dispute.
This means understanding and confronting the following:
- What is a Will
- The importance of making an EPOA
- The importance of making an AHD
- Reviewing your estate planning documents
- Statutory Wills
- Providing for disabled children
- Different types of Wills
- Divorce and your Will | Marriage and your Will | The effect of re-partnering and your Will
- Digital assets
- Protecting your wealth
- Superannuation and your Will
- Testamentary Trusts
- Special Disability Trusts
- Life insurance and your Will
- Blended families
These and many other issues need to be addressed if you want to do your Will well. We have the knowledge and the life and legal experience to help you through this process and to get you to a point of doing something and doing it well. You can then truly RIP – retire in peace.
Being an Executor of an estate is not something we do every day. In fact it’s probably only something we will do once in our life. As such, given the importance of the role, doing it well may mean getting advice and assistance of how to do it well.
An executor’s role can be complex both in terms of the Will they have to administer and the estate that needs to be dealt with. Then there are other things to consider like tax and no doubt, anxious beneficiaries awaiting their entitlements. Things can also pop up that are unexpected such as a challenge to the Will which will involve the Executor in legal proceedings.
Once the role commences it is very important to have a clear understanding of the responsibilities of an Executor because if you don’t and you do the wrong thing, even inadvertently, there can be personal consequences.
It is important to seek the assistance of lawyers like us at the outset so that we can inform you of these important duties and the steps in the process of administering an estate including such things as:
- Being an executor
- Being an administrator
- What is intestacy
- What is Probate
- Letters of Administration
- Re-seal of Probate
- Tax and the Estate
- Executor’s Commission
- Beneficiaries’ rights
- Reading the Will
It can be a challenging and stressful role and something that doesn’t come naturally to most of us. That’s why it is crucial to talk to lawyers like us not only to understand your role and responsibilities but also to help you through the process. The sooner you talk to us the better.
The complexity of our lives flows on to our deaths. As a consequence, the incidence of people challenging Wills is increasing every year.
You can dispute a Will generally be on 2 bases:
- You were left out of the Will when you should not have been or you were not given what you think you deserved in a person’s Will; or
- You think the Will made by the person is invalid because, for example, the person didn’t know what they were doing when they signed the Will.
Information about estate disputes include:
- Challenging a Will
- Family Provision Applications
- Solemn Form
- Trust disputes
- Disputes over Death Benefits
- Compensation for beneficiaries
- Problems with the Executor
- Are you an unhappy beneficiary under a Will?
Many people can have legitimate concerns about how they have been treated in a person’s Will but remember, not just anyone can challenge a Will. Generally unless you are a spouse, a child or a dependant of the person who died you are not entitled to challenge.
Remember as well, superannuation can be the biggest asset of a person when they die, known as a death benefit. In certain circumstances you can also challenge how this death benefit is to be paid out by a Superannuation Fund.
The trick is to get good and prompt advice on where you stand and what your rights are. Bear in mind as well that there are strict time limits on doing something so don’t wait too long to get the advice or take action. If you do, you may lose the right to challenge.
Meet The Wills and Estate Team
Recognised as one of the leading experts in Australia on elder law, aged care, retirement, estate planning and disability and a regular author, broadcaster and popular presenter on many elder law subjects and issues.
Our resident expert on the full gamut of life planning issues from guardianship, incapacity, disability and family disputes through to sophisticated estate planning and will challenges.
With a background in aged care management, Rebecca brings hands on experience and insight into our elder law and aged services areas as well as a thorough understanding of complex estate planning issues and disputes.
A highly experienced legal assistant with extensive knowledge of retirement village issues and conveyancing.
Are you in need of professional legal help ?
Don’t hesitate to contact CRH Law. We have helped many people in the same situations as you’re probably in. We try to respond within two working days, but since we are a respected law firm, we do have very busy schedules. We hope to hear from you soon.