Wills & Estates

An effective estate plan may require more than preparing a valid Will and it’s important to consider various aspects of your life, financial and personal circumstances when planning estate documents.

In an increasingly complex world, there are a number of reasons why you should speak to an expert about your estate planning:

  • You may have a traditional family or a blended family with children and step-children
  • You may have a family business which you would like to pass to a new generation
  • You may require testamentary trusts to protect your assets or allow for intergenerational transition
  • Your family’s wealth may be held through companies, trusts or superannuation funds
  • You may be concerned about the next generation’s ability to manage their inheritance, or be concerned about their own family or financial misfortune
  • ​You may be concerned about accident or illness
  • You may be concerned about hidden taxes and duties

Effective estate planning can be complex. RH Law can assist you to navigate through this serious area by offering the following Wills and estate planning legal services:

 

Wills

Having a Will is essential. Failure to have a current valid Will can lead to difficulties for those left behind. There may be a requirement for a relative to apply to the Court for appointment as your administrator at substantial cost. Without a Will, your estate will be distributed according to the Intestacy Rules which are rules legislated by the government, which may or may not reflect your wishes.

Having a valid Will serves two main functions:

  1. It appoints one or more people (the executors) whose task it is to wrap up your affairs after you pass
  2. It directs the executors as to who you would like to receive the benefit of your estate or who is to take guardianship of your minor children.

 

Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney appoints a trusted family member or friend to look after your legal and/or financial affairs should you be unable to do so yourself. The power of attorney can specify the extent of powers an attorney is authorised to exercise. It can operate for a limited time, such as while you are travelling overseas, for a one-off transaction or take effect indefinitely from the time your attorneys accept their appointment, or you lose mental capacity. 

This is known as an enduring power of attorney. For both parties, it is a responsibility to be taken very seriously and comes with legal requirements and implications. Also, each case is specific to the nominator and nominee and so it is wise to seek legal guidance that both understands and encompasses every aspect of your individual situation.

 

Guardian

An appointment of an enduring guardian appoints a person to make lifestyle, health and medical decisions on your behalf if you lack capacity to make those decisions yourself. A guardian acts as a substitute decision-maker and may consent to medical and dental treatment and living arrangements. The appointment also authorises health care professionals to share your personal information with your guardian.

 

Estate Administration (including application for a Grant of Probate)

Tidying up the affairs of a loved one who has passed away can be a daunting prospect and adds to the burden at a time of emotional difficulty. Probate is a grant made by a court that proves the Will of a deceased person, vests title to estate assets in the executor and authorises the executor to deal with the estate. The executor is responsible to pay estate liabilities, distribute gifts, sell and transfer property, arrange estate returns and generally finalise the estate in accordance with the Will.

RH Law can help you through every stage the probate journey, from the initial application for the grant to the task of asset location and allocation. Probate can be a complex process so let RH Law make it easier for you.

Estate Litigation

People can create their Will however they please, it can be a major surprise and rather distressing to discover that you have been excluded as a beneficiary under a Will. 

There are several reasons that a Will can be contested:

  • A more recent, valid Will exists,
  • The validity of the Will is questionable due to the Willmaker’s apparent lack of testamentary capacity at the time the Will was made
  • The Willmaker failed to make adequate provision for one or more family members or dependents
  • The Willmaker was not acting independently when making the Will. For example, a Willmaker may have been unduly influenced or pressured into making arrangements other than he or she desired
  • One or more of the executors is not complying with the directions contained in the Will.

How can we help?

RH Law can appraise your position via a 90-minute consultation. We can provide you an affordable opinion as to whether a claim can and should be pursued.

It is our policy to attempt to resolve disputes that arise in an Estate Administration by negotiation, conferencing or mediation. This often delivers better outcomes at substantially less cost to the Estate and the parties. Estate litigation resolved outside of court also leaves scope for the family relationships to repair afterwards. 

Only if alternative dispute resolution does not work will RH Law recommend litigation.