Wills and Estate Lawyers Sydney NSW

How Empower Wills and Estate Lawyers in Sydney Can Help You

Wills and Estate Planning

Our expert will and estate lawyers can help design and implement an estate plan that best meets a client’s circumstances, needs, and objectives. 

Our lawyers can assist with the following:

  • Preparing a person’s first will.
  • Preparing a new will to replace an existing will.
  • Preparing related estate planning documents. 
  • Advising on options to best achieve testamentary objectives.
  • Advising on the risk of claims (including family provision claims).
  • Advise on ways to wholly or partly disinherit specific beneficiaries.
  • Establishing and implementing appropriate structures to best deliver the plan (including testamentary trusts). 
  • Restructure whole estates.
  • Dispute resolution with other family members or stakeholders prior to death. 
  • Negotiate and apply for court-approved releases.

Our lawyers can assist clients to commence or defend will and estate disputes.

Generally, a person may contest a will (known as a “family provision claim”) or challenge a will. Each of these claims is different and requires consideration of different factors. 

Contesting wills typically involves a claim in relation to quantum – that is, where a person believes they should have received more and wants to claim a larger share of an estate.

On the other hand, challenging a will typically involves a question of quality – that is, the validity of the will itself, including the circumstances surrounding its preparation, execution, and legitimacy.

While each claim involves different legal principles, the claimant’s end goal is often the same: to secure a larger share of the estate. 

Our lawyers have experience in all aspects of wills and estate litigation, including bringing claims and defending claims. 

When a person dies, the person named as executor has the right to commence administration of the estate. 

As part of the estate administration, the person named as executor will usually need to apply for probate. To apply for probate, the executor must first obtain and/or prepare documents for lodgement with the application, including the deceased person’s death certificate and original will, and prepare an inventory of property. This documentation is submitted to the Supreme Court of NSW, along with the probate application, which will make up the formal request for the Court to acknowledge the will’s validity.

The probate process in New South Wales can vary in duration, but it generally takes several months. The length of time depends on the complexity of the estate, the accuracy of the application, and whether any requisitions (where the Court requests additional information) are raised by the Court.

Once probate is granted, the executor of an estate will have the power to call in the estate’s assets, pay the estate’s liabilities, and distribute the estate in accordance with the terms of the will. 

If there are no executors willing and able to act or the deceased died without a will, some other person (usually the person with the largest interest in the estate) may need to make an application for a Letter of Administration. Once the person is appointed administrator of an estate, they will have the power to administer the estate much like an executor. 

The laws and regulations regarding a grant of probate or Letters of Administration varies from one State or Territory to another and a person should seek legal advice and assistance in relation to the laws and regulations applicable in their jurisdiction. 

Probate or Letters of Administration are not required in all cases and may not be required where the estate is small or where the transfer of the estate assets does not require a grant of probate. 

Enduring Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardianship Appointments

Our lawyers can assist with preparing Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardianship Forms.  

A Power of Attorney is a legal document in which a person (the “principal”) appoints another person (the “attorney”) to make financial and legal decisions on their behalf. This usually allows the attorney to involve themselves in the principal’s financial affairs, access bank accounts, and act on the principal’s behalf in financial and legal matters. A Power of Attorney can come into effect and operate immediately (for instance, if a person is travelling overseas for an extended period of time and is unable to make decisions themselves while overseas) or at a later date, upon the happening of a future event. 

A General Power of Attorney ceases to have effect if the principal loses capacity, whereas an Enduring Power of Attorney continues to operate after the principal loses the mental capacity to make decisions themselves due to injury or illness such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Where a person loses capacity and there is no Enduring Power of Attorney in effect, the government may have the power to make decisions on the principal’s behalf unless another person applies for and is granted attorney powers by a Court or Tribunal. Therefore, an Enduring Power of Attorney is usually appropriate where a principal does not want to risk finding themselves in a position where the government can make decisions on their behalf.

An Enduring Guardianship Form on the other hand, is a legal document that allows a person to appoint another person to make lifestyle and medical decisions. An Enduring Guardianship comes into effect once the person loses the capacity to make decisions for themselves. The guardian has the power to make decisions such as where a person lives (i.e. at home or in aged care), what medical care the person requires, and what medical treatment a person receives.

Why It Pays to Have Us On Your Side 

Experts in Our Specialised Area of Law

Our estate planning lawyers specialise in wills and estate law. 

When we assist a client with their estate plan, we advise on and implement appropriate testamentary provisions and structures that best ensure the client's assets pass to their preferred beneficiaries. 

Through our unique experience in will disputes, we are better placed to understand the risks of claims against a deceased estate and to recommend options to reduce the risk of such claims. 

Fixed fees

In most cases, we can offer fixed fees for our estate planning services. 

High Level of Client Care and Professionalism

As each estate plan is unique, so are the legal services we provide. 

When preparing an estate plan, we provide a personalised service tailored to each client’s particular circumstances, needs, and objectives to inform and support them through the process. We also offer home or hospital consultations where required to ensure the client has access to legal service in the most convenient form. 

Proven Experience

We have experience with estate plans of all shapes and sizes. 

Our expertise in this area ranges from clients with small estates requiring a simple will to complex estate plans involving existing family trusts, companies, businesses, and self-managed superannuation funds which require complex testamentary trusts to provide for future generations. 

Leading Wills and Estate Law Firm Sydney 

Empower Wills and Estate Lawyers in Sydney can help make sure your will meets the formal requirements of the Succession Act 2006 (NSW).

Whether you need to make a new will, update an existing will, or would like advice on any risks arising from your testamentary wishes, our legal practice can help ensure your assets are passed on to those you choose and reduce the risk of claims against the estate. 

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Require a Quote? Here’s the Next Step.

To obtain a quote for your estate plan, please contact Empower Wills and Estate Lawyers today on 1300 414 844. 

How the Expert Wills Lawyers at Empower Wills and Estate Lawyers Sydney Can Help

If you have been named executor and need a lawyer who gives you peace of mind or act on your behalf, contact us now on 1300 414 844 to speak to one of our experienced wills and estate practitioners. 

Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

Disclaimer: the information in this article relates to NSW law as at the date it was written and is general information only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. It may contain information or links to sources which are no longer current. If you have a question or legal issue, we recommend you contact a lawyer and obtain legal advice that takes into account your specific facts, circumstances, needs and objectives.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you would like to best ensure that your testamentary wishes are fulfilled and that your estate is distributed to those you choose, we recommend you consult an experienced wills and estate lawyer to prepare a personalised estate plan. 

We generally advise avoiding post-office wills or Do It Yourself (DIY) will kits, as these do not allow for an assessment of the risks arising from your testamentary wishes and may be more susceptible to challenge. One of the reasons why they present a higher risk of challenge is because they are often prepared in private, and because a lawyer is not involved in the process, there are no solicitor-filed notes made that can be relied upon later in the event a claim is made, as would be the case is a solicitor prepared the will. 

A post office will or DIY will kit may also give rise to unfavourable tax consequences, which a professionally drawn will may have avoided. 

If you are looking to update your estate plan, we recommend you engage an experienced wills and estates lawyer who has the requisite knowledge and experience to advise on and implement your testamentary intentions and objectives. 

While there is no requirement for a person to appoint an attorney or guardian, it may have benefits. 

If the principal is concerned about giving too much power to one particular person, the principal may prefer to appoint two or more attorney’s or guardians to act jointly to provide additional checks and balances. 

The principal may also limit or restrict the powers the attorney or guardian has under the specific terms of the instruments. 

By signing an Enduring Guardianship Form, a person may appoint another person to make lifestyle and medical decisions on their behalf in the event they lose the capacity to make decisions for themselves. Importantly, subject to the terms of the appointment, your nominated guardian does not assume the role of guardian until such time as you lose the ability to make your own decisions. Depending on the terms of the Enduring Guardianship Form, the loss of capacity is often determined by one or more medical practitioners. 

A testamentary trust is a trust that comes into existence upon the testator’s death and by virtue of the terms of their will. 

While testamentary trusts offer many benefits, they are usually more complex and costly to set up. If you are considering a testamentary trust, we recommend you contact a specialist in wills and estates for advice that takes into account your facts, circumstances, needs, and objectives. 

Although there is no requirement for an executor to engage a lawyer to assist with the administration of an estate, it can be a complex process that, if not done correctly, can expose the executor to personal liability. Therefore, most executors do engage a lawyer to assist with administering an estate. 

A lawyer can assist with identifying and locating the deceased’s will; obtaining copies of legal documents, including a copy of the death certificate; identifying the deceased’s assets and liabilities; preparing Court documents and applying for probate; liaising with government agencies and third-parties; defending the estate from claims; arranging tax returns and paying estate taxes; and distributing the estate.

If you have been named executor and would like to discuss with one of our solicitors how Empower Wills and Estate Lawyers may be able to help, contact us now on 1300 414 844. 

A probate and estate lawyer can assist various parties in a deceased estate. 

A probate lawyer may act for the executor and assist with the probate process including identifying and locating the deceased’s will; obtaining copies of legal documents, including a copy of the death certificate; identifying the deceased’s assets and liabilities; preparing Court documents; apply for a grant of probate; liaising with government agencies and third-parties; defending the estate from claims; arranging tax returns and paying estate taxes; and distributing the estate.

On the other hand, a beneficiary may engage an experienced estate lawyer to make a claim against the deceased estate with a view to securing a larger share of the estate. 

A wills and estate lawyer can assist a beneficiary or potential beneficiary to bring a family provision claim against an estate.

On the other hand, a wills and estate lawyer can assist the executor or administrator to defend a family provision claim against an estate.

Where necessary, wills and estate lawyers can assist by preparing required Court documentation and appearing in Court for their clients. In some cases, the solicitor may instruct a barrister to appear in Court. 

The laws and regulations regarding probate varies from one State or Territory to another and a person should seek advice and assistance in relation to the laws and regulations that apply in their jurisdiction. 

Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

Disclaimer: the information in this article relates to NSW law as at the date it was written and is general information only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. It may contain information or links to sources which are no longer current. If you have a question or legal issue, we recommend you contact a lawyer and obtain legal advice that takes into account your specific facts, circumstances, needs and objectives.

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