Estate Planning, Trusts, Probate and Estate Litigation
Family structures are more complex and fragmented today than at any time in history making the need to ensure your affairs are in good order and reflect your changing family and asset situation all the more important. Higher divorce rates, blended families and de-facto relationships increase the pool of potential claimants and create scope for conflict. Increasingly, the courts are dealing with disputes over issues that the individuals had never envisaged, fuelled by a volatile mix of family, emotion and money.
Specialists On Your Side
Estate planning is an area of law that often appears deceptively simple. It is not; even for people with comparatively modest assets. For those with more complex estates, there is enormous scope for things to go awry.
Assets that are not held personally - for example in trusts, superannuation and joint holdings - need to be dealt with skilfully to ensure they are protected and distributed the way their owner intended. When they are not, the fallout can have unintended consequences.
Our team has the expertise and experience to ensure that your wishes are made clear, that your wealth is protected, that during your lifetime your affairs are managed the way you want them to be if you lose the capacity to do so yourself, and that your estate is distributed according to your instructions after your death. This helps to remove potential problems for family and friends at a sensitive time and ensures that the administration of your estate is conducted as quickly and smoothly as possible.
We have a highly experienced, multi-disciplinary team with the capability to administer estates of all sizes and complexity, including those with overseas assets. Our team includes lawyers who are members of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and an Accredited Specialist in Wills and Estates Law.
Our estate litigators specialise in Will disputes and other estate litigation. Many such claims are resolved prior to a court hearing which in general is financially beneficial for all concerned. Where this is not possible our estate litigators will apply their specialist expertise to ensure that the best result possible is achieved.
- Beneficiaries of estates
- Families, including blended families and those with same sex parents
- Family members excluded from the Will
- NSW residents involved in estates in other states and overseas
- Enduring powers of attorney for financial matters
- Wills incorporating trusts:
- Testamentary Discretionary Trusts - These have significant benefits including reducing tax payable on income distributed for the benefit of children and grandchildren under 18 years of age. They also give asset protection from risks arising on divorce/relationship breakdown and bankruptcy
- Life Estate Trusts - These give an income stream to a beneficiary with control of capital remaining with a trustee
- Special Disability Trusts - These provide for the care and accommodation needs of a person with a severe disability
- Enduring guardian nominations for health and lifestyle matters and advanced health directives (or living Wills) dealing with end of life decisions.
Probate and Estate Administration
- Obtaining a grant of Probate:
- Intestate (where there is no Will) - also known as Letters of Administration
- Testate (where there is a Will) - also known as Probate
- Resealing overseas grants in NSW
- Administering estates by collecting assets, paying liabilities and distributing to the beneficiaries in accordance with the Will or intestacy legislation (where there is no Will).
- Establishment of trusts both family and charitable including Private Ancillary Funds
- Interpretation of ambiguous trust deeds
- Amendment of trust deeds
- Appointment and retirement of trustees
- Ongoing duties and obligations of trustees.
- Family provision claims against estates
- Estates in which the testamentary capacity of the testator is in question.
- The rectification of Wills - where the Will does not reflect the intentions of the deceased
- The interpretation of Wills - where the Will is ambiguous
- Statutory Will applications
- Applications for judicial advice.