Wills & Estate Planning

Has someone ever said to you “you should really get your estate planning done” and you don’t really know what they mean.

What is “estate planning” and why is it so important?

The biggest difference with this firm is that we’re not ‘on the clock’ and we offer only our help on a fixed fee basis. When it comes to Wills & Estate Planning, this means we can take the time to help you and you can feel comfortable getting to know us. We often have clients who are not sure what estate planning is and so we thought we’d take the opportunity to explain it a little.

Estate planning is an ‘umbrella’ like term used to describe the process of planning for death or disability. It sounds awful, we know, however having arrangements in place that are tailored to you is likely to be kindest and thoughtful thing you can do for those that love you. Estate planning includes a comprehensive review of what legally happens if you passed away or lost capacity to make your own decisions and checking if what you learn from that review aligns with what you want and need for yourself and your loved ones.

For many, estate planning may simply include a Will and Enduring Power of Attorney carefully drafted to suit your personal and financial circumstances. Your documents will appoint the person or people you trust to handle your affairs when you go or handle your life admin appropriately if you can’t do it yourself. They will also contemplate and cover you in case something happens to your first appointed person. There’s many things you can plan for and those that you cannot. For others, estate planning may involve looking at the family business structure (including companies, partnership and family trusts), making sure the right people take over control of the right entities when key people pass away. It may also include ensuring the company has the right decision makers in place, if something happened to you, the owner manager. It can mean the difference between the business staying open and a forced closure while the family deals with tragedy, all at once. This will include Wills and Powers of Attorney and also other documents to ensure it all knits together properly.

Estate planning is all about putting the best plan in place to ensure you and your loved ones are covered and no two estate plans are the same. Estate planning includes things like:

  • Preparing Wills, including standard Wills and testamentary discretionary trust Wills
  • Preparing General and Enduring Powers of Attorney
  • Preparing Advance Health Directives and giving directions about end-of-life care
  • Superannuation planning, including Binding Death Benefit Nominations
  • Reviewing family trust deeds about who takes over when you can’t manage it anymore
  • Considering business succession plans

Probate & Deceased Estates

Have you lost someone recently and a bank, superannuation fund or other organisation you are dealing with has said that they need a Grant of Probate before you can do anything?

Has a loved one passed away without a Will?

When someone passes away, it is necessary to determine who has the legal authority to manage their affairs. The question of whether the person had a Will is often the first critical question to have answered which will then determine the next steps.

When dealing with someone’s assets after their gone, it is common for many organisations to require a Grant of Probate (where there is a Will) or Grant of Letters of Administration (when there is no Will) to ensure they are dealing with the legally authorised person for the estate. To help you settle into this next process, we thought it would be helpful to explain a bit about what this means and answer a few common questions that are asked by our clients.

Grant of Probate is a formal court order that confirms that the Will is valid and the executor has the appropriate legal authority to administer the deceased person’s estate. It is sometimes possible to deal with some aspects of the estate as executor of Will without a Grant as the executor draws their power from the Will itself. The question of whether you can administer the estate without the need of a Grant is determined by what is in the estate (i.e. assets and liabilities) and other factors that we can take you through. Where the named executor/s in a Will is unable to act, you will need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration (with the Will) to appoint the appropriate person to take the place of the executor named in the Will. This persons then becomes called the “Administrator” of the estate.

If a person passes away without a Will, there is no person that automatically has the authority to deal with the estate. This means that it will be necessary to get a Grant. This is called a Grant of Letters of Administration (on Intestacy).

We help people with these formalities by preparing all the necessary steps, including:

  • helping you determine the person who has the legal entitlement to apply for the Grant;
  • explaining the process and likely timing;
  • drafting the Court application and affidavit material for you;
  • organising the necessary notice to creditors and legal advertising requirements with the law reporter;
  • liaising with the Supreme Court Registry and filing of the Court documents; and
  • delivering the original Grant of Probate to you.

Retirement & Ageing

Are you moving yourself or someone else into a retirement or aged care community?

Have you been recommended to get some legal advice about the paperwork?

The move to retirement lifestyle villages or aged care community is a massive step. Most of the time, people have not ever been exposed to the world of retirement and aged care before, let alone all the paperwork! And, let’s face it, it’s completely different to anything else.

Buying into retirement villages or paying a Refundable Accommodation Deposit (RAD) is nothing like buying your first and fourth home in your local residential community. Oh, and did I mention that the aged care sector LOVES acronyms!

Something that regularly surprises us is that we are one of the few firms that specialise in providing advice to mature persons or their families regarding these types of moves. They are a bit of a niche area and have their own special area of law; in fact, retirement and aged care are often thought of the same thing, however the law that applies to each is entirely different.

We help people navigate this unchartered territory for them and try to take the confusion and uncertainty away so they can begin embracing the exciting feeling of new beginnings of joining a new community. Whilst these are big life changes, we believe they can be seen as a wonderful new adventure to embark upon. We hope to help you ease any worry you have about the legalities of the move so you can just enjoy it.

We help with:

  • Reviewing the contract to explain the entry and exit conditions;
  • Answering your specific questions about certain aspects of the move;
  • Explaining the process of entering and exciting the village or community;
  • Helping you undersatnd your ongoing obligations in the village or community;
  • Answering any other questions you might have about the move.