What to know about Wills
If you're aged 18 or over, having a valid Will is the best way to ensure that once you pass away, your family members and loved ones will be adequately provided for and the chances of family squabbles about your estate will be reduced.
A Will is much more than a document stating who will receive your belongings and assets after you die; it's a valuable form of personal security that protects those nearest and dearest to you.
Contesting a Will
In some circumstances, you may feel that you have been unfairly provided for in a Will, or wish to contest the validity of the Will itself. There are several options open to you, depending on your reasons for challenging the Will.
Testator's family maintenance claims, where the claimant believes they have not been appropriately provided for
Lack of testamentary capacity claims, where the claimant believes the deceased person lacked the mental capacity to understand what he or she was signing
Undue influence claims, where the claimant believes the deceased person was a victim of coercion or fraud
Breach of trust claims, where the claimant believes an executor or trustee has failed to administer a Will or trust properly.
Learn more about the different types of claims that can be used to contest a Will.
Assets not covered by a Will
Only assets owned exclusively by you are covered by a Will.
Examples of assets not covered by a Will include:
Assets held by a superannuation fund, which generally go to a dependant spouse or children
Assets owned by discretionary trusts, which do not become part of your estate as they remain the property of the trust
Proceeds from a life insurance policy, which are paid directly to the beneficiary nominated by the insured person, and do not form part of the deceased's estate.
Assets owned by unit trusts or companies that are controlled by you, although the shares or units of such trusts and companies will be part of your estate.
Many of the assets that constitute an estate can be contested in a Will dispute so it's important to get the right legal advice when preparing your Will to avoid any dispute or confusion between your beneficiaries.
Understanding Powers of Attorney vs Enduring Powers of Attorney
Powers of Attorney are legal documents that let you appoint someone to manage your affairs on your behalf. The main difference between a Power of Attorney and an Enduring Power of Attorney is that an Enduring Power of Attorney still has effect if, or when, you lose mental capacity.
Whether appointing someone as your Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney, you can specify:
- When the appointment is to operate
- Whether they have limited or unrestricted powers
- In the instance that you choose several Powers of Attorney, whether they must act jointly or whether they can independently exercise their powers.
We recommend you appoint an Enduring Power of Attorney to conduct your financial and legal affairs in the event that you:
- Suffer from unsoundness of mind, a mental illness or other misadventure, which may lead to you losing your mental capacity
- Are not up to physically managing your own affairs.
Although it's not fun to picture a scenario where you won't be able to make your own decisions, it pays to appoint either a Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney when making a Will.
We're able to offer a No Win - No Fee* cost agreement in most cases related to Will disputes. No Win - No Fee means that you do not pay any of our legal fees upfront – you only have to pay us an agreed fee if we're successful in obtaining for you some of the estate you are entitled to.
How we help you with Wills
We're experts in handling Will and estate cases, and will help ensure your property and possessions are distributed according to your specific wishes.
We have helped clients create and contest Wills for many years, and our knowledge and experience in this area ensures the process is as quick and stress-free as possible for you.
By working with us we can:
Make sure your Will is valid
Assess the size and scope of your estate
Assist with making or managing any type of Will dispute
Negotiate your best possible outcome
Take away the stress and worry that comes with making or contesting Wills.