Wills & Estates
A well prepared, holistic estate plan gives you peace of mind. A good estate plan also makes legal matters easier for your loved ones. There may come a time where your health declines and you need assistance making decisions. We are here to help families avoid unnecessary confusion and stress in what is already a difficult time.
Whether you need assistance with your estate planning, guidance on your role as an attorney or guardian, assistance to administer an estate or advice on your rights to claim against an estate, we help you navigate the process and provide certainty for the future.
Recognised by Doyle’s Guide as a Leading Wills, Estates & Succession Planning Law Firm and a Leading Wills & Estates Litigation Law Firm, BAL is home to Canberra’s most experienced and trusted experts in Wills and Estates.
- To sell, or not to sell? That is the question (in deceased estates)
- Conditional gifts in Wills
- Appointing a testamentary guardian for your minor children in the ACT – 5 points you should know
- How much is enough for a widow? Recent guidance from the NSW Court of Appeal
- Jill McSpedden and Christine Harvey join BAL Lawyers Estates and Estate Planning team
- Modern couples’ guide to joint tenancy
- The transfer balance cap and CSS/PSS pensions
Making a Will
A Will is a vital component of an estate plan. A well drafted Will provides certainty and clarity for you and your family. You will know who has the legal authority to deal with your assets when you pass away, who will inherit those assets, and who will assume the role of guardian for your minor children.
Our approach to estate planning considers the broader implications of your personal, family and financial circumstances. We regularly draft Wills with testamentary trusts, which provide asset protection and tax minimisation opportunities to your beneficiaries.
Blended families are on the rise and bring an additional layer of complexity to the estate planning process. We carefully consider your circumstances and help you balance completing obligations you may have to several different beneficiaries.
If you pass away without a Will, quite rigid legislation applies which dictates who will receive your assets. This can lead to unfair outcomes that are not aligned with your intentions.
Superannuation is not automatically governed by the terms of your Will. Except for older public service superannuation schemes, there are separate documents required to ensure that your superannuation passes in the way you intend. We will draft those documents for you as part of your estate plan.
Our estate planning strategies and superannuation advice considers relevant tax consequences, ensuring that your wealth is passed on to your intended beneficiaries in a tax effective manner.
Powers of Attorney & Guardianship
In many ways, an Enduring Power of Attorney is a more important document than your Will. An Enduring Power of Attorney is a “living” document in which you authorise certain people (called your “attorneys”) to make decisions for you if your health declines. Your attorneys may need to make decisions about your property and financial affairs, your health care matters, and your personal care matters. Financial institutions and medical professionals will need to know who is authorised to make decisions on your behalf.
If a person has lost decision-making capacity and there is no Power of Attorney (or if the current arrangements are not satisfactory), we can guide you through the process of securing an appointment of a guardian and financial manager from the relevant tribunal.
Probate & Estate Administration
The roles and obligations of an executor can be complex and time consuming. In almost all estates, an executor will require the assistance of both lawyers and accountants to administer an estate.
We routinely secure Grants of Probate in both the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales. A Grant of Probate is a Court Order that grants an executor the legal authority to deal with the estate assets. We liaise with all relevant institutions on your behalf to ensure that assets are appropriately dealt with and distributed consistent with the terms of a Will or the intestacy legislation.
Resolving Estate Disputes
Unfortunately, estate disputes are common. Disputes may arise in relation to a particular family member while they are alive, for example about their care and living arrangements. Disputes may also arise after death with respect to an estate. Regardless of the terms of a Will, there are categories of people who are eligible to make a claim against an estate (for example, spouses and children).
We routinely act for executors who are required to defend a family provision claim against an estate. We also commence family provision claims on behalf of applicant clients. BAL is regularly engaged on other types of estate disputes that may relate to a lack of testamentary capacity or undue influence when a Will was prepared.