If you are reading this, then you have probably gone through the process of deciding how you want to divide your estate, providing instructions, drafting and reading the contents of your Will. Congratulations – this important step is something that approximately 50% of Australians have not done. If not, this is probably useful information for you in any event. If your Will was drafted by us, it has also been reviewed by our firm’s specialist Wills team. Before you start, please: Read the Will carefully to make sure that it says exactly what you want it to say. Do not make any alterations to the Will. If the Will contains errors or does not correctly reflect your wishes, please let your lawyer know before you sign anything. Step 1: Find Two Eligible Witnesses Once you are ready to sign you will need two witnesses who satisfy the following conditions: The witnesses must…

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The issue of property settlement between married and de facto parties is complex and technical.  A High Court decision has now made this more the case. If you are 40 something and one of your parents (or both) have re-partnered and you are wondering about the effect this may have on your inheritance, then read on. If you think a property settlement cannot happen whilst you are not separated, think again. Generally speaking, the Court cannot make a property settlement order unless it is satisfied that, in all the circumstances, it is ‘just and equitable’ to do so. The case of Stanford v Stanford [2012] HCA 52 has highlighted the importance of carefully considering this term. The husband and wife were married for over 40 years.  Both parties had been previously married and had adult children.  The family home was registered in the husband’s sole name. During the relationship, they each made…

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Do I need a will? It depends on what you want to happen after you die. If you do not have a will, the distribution of your estate is governed by the rules of intestacy. In Victoria, those rules are found in the Administration and Probate Act 1958. Who gets what depends on your circumstances including whether you have a partner, whether you have children and whether those children have received other property from you. If you have a will, the distribution of your estate is governed by the terms of your will. Should I see a professional to make my will? Again, it depends. If you want the safety and security of knowing that your will is going to be effective and distribute your estate according to your intentions, then it is recommended that you retain the services of a professional to draft the necessary documents. But an estate…

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Your will and power of attorney are only two elements of your overall estate plan that need to be considered. Other matters when we can advise you on including setting up Family Trusts; death benefit nominations for your superannuation fund; and relevant insurances. In many cases it may also involve entering into a Financial Agreement. Because of our vast experience in family law, we are well placed to give you technical and practical advice about how best to protect your family’s wealth, and the wealth of future generations to come, especially in the event of family breakdown. Estate Planning case study- the Estate of Peter Brock The Estate of Peter Brock (a famous race car driver of course) is an excellent example of the importance of proper estate planning. By way of background, Peter had his first will prepared in 1983. It was professionally drafted and properly executed. It was…

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