Wills & Estates

A valid will is one of the most important documents a person can have. The size of your estate does not determine whether or not you should have a will. The distribution of even the smallest estates is made more complex without a valid will. It is not uncommon for people to put off obtaining a will because it is a difficult topic to discuss.

 

The question about the effectiveness of a standard will kit versus a properly drafted will is often raised. While a standard will kit might work in some cases, it does not fit all circumstances and the important questions that a lawyer may ask before drafting your will are missed which can have disastrous consequences when your estate is ultimately distributed.

 

It is also important to ensure that your will is kept up to date. In many cases people who have a will forget to keep it current or intend to update their will but don’t get around to it. Changes in family structure such a marriage, entering a de facto relationship, having children or changes in property ownership are some of the more common reasons to update your will. There are also changes in the law that may affect the validity of your old will.

 

Some of the areas in which Steiner Legal can assist you are:

Will Drafting

What is a Will?

A will is a formal legal document that outlines what you wish to happen to your assets if something were to happen to you.

Why Should You Make a Will?

It is important for you to make a will so that if something were to happen to you, your assets and property can be distributed according to your wishes. If you die without a will, the courts will only let your spouse or children inherit from you.

 

However, this process can become complicated if there are complex family relationships, if you’ve had multiple marriages and children from multiple marriages, or if you have never been married and have no children.

 

It is therefore important for you to make a will so that the people you want to get your assets will get them. You can give your possessions to whoever you like, however you are obliged to provide adequate support for any dependents you have.

 

We recommend creating a valid will through the help of one of our experienced solicitors to ensure that your will is enforceable, and to reduce the potential for contest when you pass.

Changing Your Will

You are able to change your will at any time – and you should change whenever there is significant change in your life. Changing your will requires you to complete a codicil, which is a formal document authorising the change in your will. A codicil needs to fulfil the same requirements for validity as would a will.

 

However, if you wish to make large changes to your will it may be more beneficial for you to create a new will. You should always change your will if you get married or divorced, as marriage and divorce have the effect of cancelling certain terms in a will.

What Happens After You Die?

When you die your will is consulted in order to determine what happens to your assets and possessions. In your will you will have appointed an executor and trustee, who is responsible for calling in all of your assets and distributing your estate (all of your assets and possessions) to your beneficiaries. This person will also be responsible for looking after assets that you have left to your children that are still under the age of 18 (or another age specified in your will).

 

Your executor may also appoint a lawyer to undertake the correct processes under your will. This may include applying to the court for probate, a grant that declares that your will is legally valid. Only a lawyer can apply to the Supreme Court for a grant of probate.

What can Steiner Legal do for you?

Steiner Legal can assist you with your discrimination matter by providing advice on your rights, negotiating with other parties to settle the matter, assist in the lodging of a complaint with the AHRC and provide legal representation for litigation.

For further information, or for help with your discrimination matter, please contact us on (02) 9555 5595 or admin@steinerlegal.com.au

Contesting Wills

Family Provision Claims

Testamentary Trusts

Power of Attorney

Enduring Guardianship

Guardianship Proceedings

Probate and Administration of Estates

I have been named the Executor in a Will. What does this mean?

Being named the Executor in someone’s Will means it is your responsibility to carry out their wishes when they die. This could involve organising the funeral, selling property, closing bank accounts and distributing funds to the beneficiaries as described in the Will.

If you have been named the Executor of an estate it is important that you understand what is expected of you in this role.  There are legal, financial and taxation implications of your actions as an Executor, and the process of administration can often take a significant amount of time – especially if the estate is complex, involving disputes, trusts or life interests. Furthermore, finalising a person’s estate while grieving can also be a difficult process.

How long will administering the Estate take?

The time it takes to administer an estate varies depending on the complexity. For example, if there is property to be sold, this will take longer than closing bank accounts.

However, even for a simple estate, the minimum time to administer an Estate is 6 months from the date of death. If you, as the Executor, administer the estate before 6 months has elapsed you will not be legally protected if claims are made against the Estate. Generally, most estates are finalised within 12 months of death.

If there are challenges to the Will, trusts to establish or difficulties locating beneficiaries, this process could take significantly longer.

What is Probate?

Probate is a grant from the Supreme Court of New South Wales that you, as the executor, will be required to obtain. The grant is confirmation and recognition that a Will is legally valid. It gives you permission to proceed to administer the estate. You will find that banks and other asset holders will not let you close and access Estate funds without the grant. You also cannot sell property without a Grant.

How do I apply for Probate?

To apply for probate the Supreme Court will require the death certificate, the original Will and a complete list of estate assets and liabilities.

Only a solicitor can apply for a grant of Probate.

How can we help you?

We can assist you by applying for the grant of Probate.

We can also assist in the administration of the estate. This process can be daunting and emotional after the death of a loved one. The team at Steiner Legal can make this difficult time easier for you and your family by taking the pressure and responsibility out of your hands.

What fees are involved?

Solicitors charge a set fee for Probate applications. These fees are dictated by the Legal Profession Regulation 2005and are based on the size of the estate:

 

Value of Estate   >   Solicitors Fee

  • Not exceeding $30,000  >  $560, Plus $13.33 for each $1,000 up to $30,000
  • Exceeding $30,000 but not exceeding $150,000  >  $960, Plus $5.90 for each $1,000 in excess of $30,000
  • Exceeding $150,000 but not exceeding $1,000,000  >  $1,670, Plus $4.47 for each $1,000 in excess of $150,000
  • Exceeding $1,000,000 but not exceeding $3,000,000  >  $5,470, Plus $1.66 for each $1,000 in excess of $1,000,000
  • Exceeding $3,000,000 but not exceeding $5,000,000  >  $8,800, Plus $1.10 for each $1,000 in excess of $3,000,000
  • Exceeding $5,000,000 but not exceeding $10,000,000  >  $11,000
    Plus $0.90 for each $1,000 in excess of $5,000,000
  • Exceeding $10,000,000  >  $15,500

 

To administer the estate, solicitors generally charge a percentage of the total estate value, which could range from 1.5% to 5%, depending on the complexity of the estate.

There is also a Probate filing fee and the cost of any expenses such as Accountant’s fees, bank fees, photocopying or postage.

Wills

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Steiner Legal is committed to ensuring the stress and worry is taken out of estate planning, will drafting and estate administration. You will be given practical sensible advice about your options and offered a streamlined approach to minimise disruption.

We are the right firm to assist you with your legal needs, ensuring you feel our high level of commitment and care while receiving accurate and superior quality legal representation.