Wills & Estates:

We don’t know what is around the corner for us and that is why Estate Planning is so important. Making sure that you have the right documents in place and appointing people you trust is a vital aspect of estate planning.
When considering estate planning you should consider the following:

Wills & Estate Lawyers

Your last will and testament is the document which appoints an executor (someone to act) to distribute your estate in accordance with your wishes outlined in the document.

There are certain requirements for a Will such as it needs to have two (2) witnesses and all three (3) of you should sign each and every page in black pen, it should revoke all previous Wills, appoint an Executor and name your beneficiaries. There are very specific rules around the preparation and execution of a Will and to prevent issues arising in the future you should always seek professional advice in this regard.

You should note that if you pass away without a Will your estate will be distributed in accordance with the legislation and your Next of Kin may need to apply to the Court for a Grant to administer the estate.

Power of Attorney Lawyers

Enduring Powers of Attorney are powerful documents, that appoints someone to do and sign almost anything you are able to. The attorney may be authorized to withdraw monies, sell our house and choose our nursing homes.

You need to appoint attorneys that you trust to make decisions in your sole best interests. This could be your partner, children, friend or someone else you trust. You can also appoint up to four (4) attorneys which may act severally (anyone decide), unanimously (all decide) or majority (most decide). Further, you can appoint financial to start immediately, or at a date or circumstance of your choosing, for example when a medical practitioner deems that you do not understand the consequences of your actions.

Having someone to make these decisions is not automatic. It is important to appoint people you trust while you have the ability and capacity to do so, not only for clarity and peace of mind, but also to assist with preventing a need for an Application to be made for a guardianship order.

Advanced Health Directives

Advanced Health Directives are in-depth documents that provide details as to medical treatment that you wish (or do not wish) to receive. These actions could include life support, artificial nutrition, resuscitation and ventilation.

The Advanced Health Directive must also be signed by a qualified medical practitioner, and the terms and ramifications of your decisions in the document should be discussed with them. It is also important to note that there is a provision for an attorney to be appointed.

Estate Lawyers

Acting as the Executor or Administrator of a deceased estate can be stressful and it is a process that often does not move quickly. It is the role of the Executor to ensure that the wishes of the deceased are followed and they also are ones who will be able to sign any required documents on behalf of the estate.

Being an Executor is not a role to take lightly, there are processes and regulations to follow and if not followed you may be held personally responsible. It is also important that you are aware of any dates for example that beneficiaries must survive the deceased by 30 days and that a person has 6 months to provide notice that they wish to contest the Will.

As solicitors, we understand the requirements for the administration of an estate, and encourage you to be as involved as much or as little as works for you when it comes to administering the estate.

Probate Lawyers

Depending on the value of the estate and who the assets are held with the estate may be required to apply for a Grant of Probate to be issued from the Supreme Court of Queensland. This is a legal document issued from the Court which states that the document attached is the Last Will and Testament as well as who the executors are. In order to apply for a Grant of Probate there are requirements to be followed such as advertising in the Queensland Law Reporter and that at least 14 days has passed since the advertisement was published before the application was signed. The application for probate may take two or three months from the advertisement until the Grant is issued and it is important to be patient during this time.

Letters of Administration

Letters of Administration is very similar to Probate in the process, however it is applied for when there is not a Will or if the executors or all beneficiaries of a will have passed. You need to know who the person entitled to apply to be the administrator is however in the first instance it is usually the spouse and then the children.

Family Provision Claim

If you believe you have not been adequately provided for under a Will you may be eligible to make a Family Provision Application. Usually you are required to prove a dependency and need for a greater provision as well as prove that you have not been adequately provided for. Most successful Family Provision Applications are from children or spouses.
There are strict time limitations when it comes to a Family Provision Claim. You need to notify the executor of the estate, in writing, within six (6) months from the date of the deceased’s demise and then if not settled through alternate dispute resolution or negotiations you have until 9 months from the date of the deceased’s demise to make an Application through the Court. Failing to meet these dates, may mean that you miss your opportunity to claim against the estate.