Wills & Estates
Having an up to date Will is a really important way of making sure that your family and loved ones are taken care of – even after you die.
A legal Will is a document that names the people you want to receive the things that you own after you die. lf you don’t have a Will, all of your assets (including your property, car, jewellery, furniture and any money left in your bank accounts) will be distributed according to a rigid formula and not necessarily in the way that you would have wanted.
Rafton’s are your trusted wills and estate lawyers in Sydney and we work with you to make sure that your Will is kept up to date and valid, even after significant changes in your life (such as divorce, buying or selling a house or re-marrying). We can help you to protect your loved ones and provide advice on how to write a Will that will cater for even the most complex family situations including blended families, difficult relationships and family members with special care needs or disabilities.
If you have been named as an Executor in a Will, you will be responsible for making sure that the estate of the deceased is distributed according to his/her wishes, or as set out in the Will. This is an important role that can also involve obtaining a Grant of Probate (authority to carry out the affairs of the deceased person) identifying the person’s assets, arranging for their collection, paying any outstanding expenses, finding the beneficiaries named in the Will, and making sure you comply with all of the legal and taxation requirements.
The statutory framework surrounding administration of an estate after someone is deceased is found in the Succession Act 2006. The application for persons ordinarily resident in NSW is made in the Supreme Court of NSW.
The experienced team at Rafton Family Lawyers can provide help and guidance during the administration of the Estate, acting on behalf of the Executor to make sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible and complies with all requirements. We have multiple offices located in different parts of Sydney such as Parramatta, Penrith, Richmond, and St. Clair.
We can also assist you with claiming death benefits on superannuation after a loved one passes away.
Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardianship Appointments
A Power of Attorney is a legal tool that allows someone you trust to act on your behalf if you are absent (eg. overseas) or if you become unable to act for yourself through mental or physical incapacity. You are able to appoint one or more people as your Attorney as long as they are over the age of 18 and legally able to fulfil the role.
We can help you to select the most appropriate person and prepare the Power of Attorney documentation for you to sign. Most importantly, we can explain the responsibilities of an Attorney and the situations in which they may be needed.
Whilst a Power of Attorney allows someone to act on your behalf in financial and legal situations, an Enduring Guardian appointment gives someone the right to make medical and welfare related decisions on your behalf. We can also provide advice and guidance in the preparation of these documents.
Drafting a Will
There are a number of matters that need to be considered when looking at drafting a will. The most common type of will is one in which the executor appointed is the spouse and the spouse receives all assets from the estate. However, we are increasingly seeing situations with “blended families” where a person has re-partnered or re-married and they would like to make provision for their older children from a prior relationship as part of their estate now.
Other important factors to consider are:
(a) Naming the executor and trustee of the estate that will assist to administer it after you have passed away.
(b) Looking at any specific gifts, requests or bequeathing of assets. This is particularly so where a person may wish to make a lump sum gift to an unrelated person or to a charitable society such as the RSPCA.
(c) Any other specific requests particularly in relation to disposal of your body and funeral arrangements.
If you would like to discuss in more detail arrangements for your will please contact our office on 13004FAMILY.
Disputes over a Will or Contested Estates
In certain situations, loved ones after a person is deceased may have concerns that:
(a) They have not been appropriately provided for when a will is read in respect to the estate of their loved one; or
(b) They may be concerned about the will that is read being “valid”.
The most common type of contesting an estate that we are instructed in relate to being left out of a will or inadequate provision in a will. There are also certain situations where loved ones are concerned that a will was drafted prior to a person passing away at a time when they were ill or may have limited capacity to give proper instructions. In the latter situation, an application can be made to contest the validity of the more recent will if necessary.
In the event an application is made regarding contesting of a will, the application is generally filed in the Supreme Court of NSW and it is served on not only the executor of the estate but also any other potential beneficiaries.
If you would like to obtain some advice as to the possibility of contesting a will or the possibility of contesting the validity of a will that has been read, please contact our office on 13004FAMILY.
Read our plain English handbooks
These fact sheets are designed to provide an overview of the relevant issues and systems so that you have a better understanding of the process.