We help individuals, families, and executors with all aspects of estate planning, from preparing Wills, powers of attorney and advanced health directives, to assisting executors and grieving family members administer the estate of a loved one.
Preparing an effective and valid Will
Your Will is your voice after you die and having one will save your family stress, uncertainty, and unnecessary costs. A valid Will provides details of who should receive your assets when you die (your beneficiaries) and who will have the responsibility of administering your estate (your executor). Your Will can also appoint guardians for your children, if required.
A Will should consider your personal, financial, and family circumstances to ensure that it provides an optimum outcome. A well written Will helps to ensure that:
- your executor understands how your estate should be managed
- you are providing for the right people when you die
- disagreements amongst your beneficiaries are avoided or minimised
- the potential for a claim against your estate is minimised
- assets and vulnerable beneficiaries are protected
- your wealth is distributed in the most tax-effective manner achievable
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Reviewing your Will
As your circumstances change, your Will should be reviewed and updated, if necessary, to ensure that it continues to reflect your testamentary wishes. The following life events may trigger the need to review and update your Will:
- marriage or divorce
- commencing a de facto relationship
- having a child
- the death of a named executor or beneficiary
- buying or selling a property or business
- receiving an unexpected windfall or inheritance
A word about DIY Will Kits
While DIY Will Kits are readily available, there are two main risks associated with them.
First, there is a high chance that your Will may be signed and/or witnessed incorrectly. Although Will Kits usually come with signing instructions, we have seen first-hand how easily these instructions can be misconstrued. A Will signed incorrectly can lead to a potential claim regarding its validity after you die.
Second, there is never a one-size-fits-all approach to preparing a Will. For some, the limited options provided by a DIY Will Kit may be okay but for many this will not be the case. It is important to discuss your individual and family circumstances with a lawyer to avoid some of the common pitfalls associated with DYI Wills. A lawyer will explain ways to protect your assets, maximise your loved-ones’ inheritance, and minimise the potential for disputes and family provision claims after you die.
Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document authorising another person to make personal and/or financial decisions on your behalf. Personal decisions relate to your care, welfare and health (for example, deciding where or with whom you live or consenting to medical treatment). Financial decisions relate to managing your finances (for example, paying your bills, selling or renting your home, using your income to pay for your needs or investing your money).
There are two types:
- a general power of attorney which ceases if you lose capacity
- an enduring power of attorney which will continue if you lose capacity
We can help you determine the type of power of attorney that is right for your circumstances, any specific restrictions you wish to include, and prepare the documents for you. A power of attorney provides assurance that somebody you trust is authorised to help manage your affairs when you are unable to.
Advance Health Directives
An advance health directive (sometimes called a living will) is a formal way to give instructions about your future health care. It comes into effect only if your cognitive health deteriorates and you become unable to make your own decisions. An advance health directive outlines what medical treatment or health care you want if you can no longer make decisions for yourself. It can be general or very specific.
Information for executors
An executor is the person with the responsibility to manage somebody’s estate according to the terms outlined in their Will.
In addition to managing the practical matters after a person dies, an executor has a range of legal duties to fulfil. The executor may need to apply for a grant of probate, locate and determine the value of assets, deal with third parties such as banks, fund managers and real estate agents, liaise with debtors and creditors, transfer and/or sell property and other assets, and distribute the estate amongst beneficiaries. Estate tax returns may be required, and an executor may need to deal with disputes and family provision claims.
Being an executor can be overwhelming, particularly if you are grieving. Estates vary in complexity and executor’s duties can be far-reaching, so it is a good idea to be guided by an estate lawyer. The cost of legal advice is usually covered by the estate.
Family Provision Claims
Making a claim
If you have been left out of a Will, or you have not received what you believe you are entitled to from a deceased estate, you may be eligible to make a claim to obtain a share or greater share. Certain individuals may be ‘eligible’ depending on their relationship with the deceased. The criteria vary between different jurisdictions in Australia and a lawyer can advise you in this regard. Strict time limits apply so it is important to get advice quickly.
Most claims are settled through negotiation or mediation. If the claim is not resolved, a court may decide whether a claimant is successful and, if so, what adjustment should be made in that person’s favour. The court will consider a number of factors including the value of the estate, the claimant’s relationship with the deceased and to what extent the claimant may have already been provided for under the deceased’s Will.
Defending a claim
If you are the executor of an estate, it is your duty to uphold the Will against any claims which are made against the estate. In doing so however, it may be wise to consider settling a claim which is likely to succeed in court, rather than depleting estate funds through excessive legal fees and court costs.
Generally, an executor should refrain from distributing assets from the estate if a claim is made. If such a claim is successful, and there are insufficient assets remaining in the estate, the executor may be personally liable.
FREE INITIAL APPOINTMENT AVAILABLE FOR ESTATE MATTERS
We offer free initial appointment for up to 30 minutes so that you can get preliminary legal advice of your options and decide if you wish to proceed with appointing us as your lawyers.
FIXED FEES AVAILABLE
STANDARD WILLS, POWERS OF ATTORNEYS & ADVANCED HEALTH DIRECTIVES
Fixed fee-includes- estate planning appointment with you by video, telephone or at our office; document preparation; arrangement for document review and signing; storage in our safe custody at no extra cost to you.
$195.00 (Plus GST) per document
Testamentary Trusts (such as disability trusts), and complex wills, at extra cost.
Home or Nursing Home appointments are available, at extra cost.
DECEASED ESTATES & ADMINISTRATION
We accommodate Executors/Administrators who wish to attend to the estate distribution themselves, but it is necessary to obtain a-
GRANT OF PROBATE (is a will); or
LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION (no will)
For attending to documents only and filing a *Standard Probate Application (subject to our review) our fees for executor/s named in will start at:
*$1,850 (plus GST) plus disbursements** (outlined below)
For attending to documents only and filing *Standard Letters of Administration Application (subject to our review) our fees start at:
*$2,150 (plus GST) plus disbursements** (outlined below)
FULL ESTATE ADMINISTRATION AVAILABLE
If you wish for us to getting in of estate assets, attending to payment of estate liabilities, distribution to beneficiaries, we would be pleased to quote/estimate, of what your extra charges will be.
DISBURSEMENTS **Please note: that Transfer of Property, getting in of estate assets, attending to payment of estate liabilities, and distribution to beneficiaries, incurs extra professional fees.
Some of the advantages of fixed fees include-
You know up front exactly what your costs will be.
You can make realistic arrangements about how and when to pay your legal bills.
You will pay a fee that equals the value you and your lawyer place on the work to be done, not the time it may take.
Your lawyer has a real incentive to get the work done and achieve results – because that’s how they get paid.
You and your lawyer have the same goals and time frame – getting the matter resolved as quickly as possible.
You won’t get any nasty surprises in the mail at the end of each month telling you how many hours you must pay for.
You won’t be charged for every minute your lawyer spends on the phone or every document that they copy or email.
PLEASE NOTE: The above indication of costs is correct as at December 2023 and are subject to change at any time.
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WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY ABOUT US
As relatively new residents of Hervey Bay and first time clients, we were most pleased to find that Turner Riddell are everything they claim to be on their web site. Claire and her team are very approachable and also respectful of the client, whilst also presenting as professional and knowledgeable. Claire was very welcoming and patient with us, readily making us feel at ease in communicating our circumstances and requirements. We unreservedly recommend Claire and her team to future clients.
I walked into Claire’s office a broken woman, facing separation and property settlement post-DV. I had lost hope of ever being financially back on track. But with her help I am about to by my first home for me and my 3 children. Eternally grateful. She handled all the complicated stuff and I trusted her with making the right decisions for me. 5 stars. Claire has turned my life around.
This process was made really easy and clear for us. From initial appointment to completed documents was super fast and efficient. The team has been very responsive to our questions and highly professional along the way. And we’ve felt very comfortable and fully informed throughout the process. Thanks Claire and Natalie.
Visiting Claire Riddell at Turner Riddell Lawyers in Pialba, Hervey Bay was a breath of fresh air. Speaking to a real person is not always possible when a lawyer is on the agenda but Claire was a vibrant friendly person who explained all aspects of my duties whilst making me feel at ease. It does not take much to have a pleasant experience so if you want the same I suggest that you make Claire Riddell at Turner Liddell Lawyers, your next stop when you need legal advice. You will not be disappointed.