What can an estate lawyer do for you? More than you think. Most people have given some thought to how they would ultimately like to dispose of assets or property on passing but, in fact, an experienced estate lawyer can also be an important ally in lifetime planning. Your estate plan, which may include trusts and other instruments in addition to a will, should be a major part of your business and personal financial plan. An estate lawyer can help you plan for the risk of incapacity, provide for family members, discharge your responsibilities as administrator of someone else’s estate, deal with the issues that arise when a spouse or parent dies without a will or challenge the provisions of a will. If you want to know more about what an estate lawyer can do for you, please call to schedule a consultation with an attorney at Owen Hodge Lawyers at 1800 770 780 or at ohl@owenhodge.com.au. Our offices are conveniently located in both Sydney and Hurstville.

Begin With Yourself and Dependent Children
 
What would happen if you became incapacitated and were unable to handle your financial affairs or make clear your wishes about medical treatment? No one wants to think about this possibility. One of your first steps may be to consult with an estate lawyer about the benefits of giving another person a Power of Attorney, a Medical Power of Attorney, appointing an Enduring Guardian or establishing an Advance Health Directive. At nearly the same level or urgency, consider naming a guardian for dependent children in the event that both you and your partner die simultaneously. (This may be a very good time to review the adequacy of your insurance coverage.) Work with your attorney to establish a regular review system so that these documents and all other parts of your estate plan remain up-to-date. Approached properly, this may not be a done once and for all.
 

After That Step, Dealing With Mere Financial Assets May Seem Easy
 
Consider your will as just an extension of your personal financial plan. You are not entirely free to do as you please, however. The Succession Act (2006) presumes that you have a moral obligation to provide financial support for close family members. Otherwise, they may be able to challenge your will. Providing for dependent children is one of many possible reasons to consider a testamentary trust.
Especially if you own a small business, your will may also be an important element of your business financial plan. If you were to die without a will, your business might cease to function, and thus cease to provide an income for your survivors, whilst tied up in probate. If you have an SMSF, consult with your attorney about the purposes and limits of a Binding Death Nomination.
 
What if It’s Not Your Own, But Someone Else’s Will That You Need Help With?
 
If you have been named as the administrator of someone else’s estate, you would probably appreciate some guidance about how to discharge your responsibilities. The same may be true if you are dealing with the property and assets of a spouse, parent or business partner who died without a will, as nearly 40% of Australians do. You may need help in applying for Letters of Administration or a Grant of Probate. An experienced estate lawyer may be able to get you through this process as expeditiously as possible.
If you believe that the provisions of a will do not accurately reflect the true intentions of the deceased because of fraud, forgery or some other reason, or if you believe that you have been unfairly treated, you may be able to challenge the will. Under certain circumstances individuals may challenge a will on behalf of another claimant, such as a minor child. This is clearly not a do-it-yourself project. Courts may be deferential to the apparent wishes of the deceased. It is also nearly certain to cause conflict with other claimants.
Many people delay making an estate plan for a variety of reasons. If you consider it as a life plan, however, there is every reason to get to it quickly and keep it up-to-date as your life changes. You owe it to yourself, your family and business associates to meet with an experienced estate lawyer to discover what one can do for you. Call Owen Hodge Lawyers on 1800 770 780 to begin this conversation as soon as possible.

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