The baby boomer generation comes to an end and the boomers want to pass on their wealth to the next generation. Most of them do this by making a last will and testament. Others set up trusts. Some of them try to avoid later disputes by creating a family financial agreement before they die. Whatever the case, lawyers are making a motza in legal fees out of deceased estates disputes. Estates of a million dollars or less are treated as “small estates” in the courts. Small estates particularly need to be protected against large legal fees diminishing what is left to divide between those entitled to a share of the estate.
That is what Whitelaw Legal Group specialises in – safeguarding the estate for the entitled beneficiaries under the Will and eligible family provision claimants under the State’s Testator Family Maintenance laws. There are two main ways to achieve this – assisting family members to negotiate a pre-death financial agreement and effective post-death management of estate disputes.
Hence, we employ our skills and experience in non-litigious dispute management and resolution methods and strategies to secure fair and equitable outcomes in the shortest possible time and at the least expense. Out of court settlements will usually need to be approved by the court.
Estate disputes that end up in court can easily cost the estate over $50,000 in legal costs and sometimes much more. To help keep money in the estate, and not let it be squandered in court proceedings, we have become specialists is helping parties reach negotiated out of court settlements at a fraction of the time and cost of litigation.
My father has recently passed away and I am upset that his last will and testament doesn't fairly distribute his estate between my brothers and I. Mum passed away before Dad, so it is just the three of us children left. Dad appointed my two older brothers as joint executors and they are about to apply for probate of the Will. What can I do?
The law respects the right of a person who owns assets to make his or her own last will and testament to say how his or her estate should be distributed after death. However, the law also expects a testator to act fairly and reasonably in how he/she disposes of the estate, and if the Will fails, without proper justification, to provide or adequately provide for legitimate needs of the surviving spouse and/or children, the law can intervene to correct that unfairness.
This area of law is called family provision and maintenance. Sometimes the validity of the Will is called into question and there are grounds to challenge the Will.
If a person dies without having made a Will (intestate), it can raise its own special legal issues. Each State and Territory has its own laws that apply on intestacy, but if the statutory formula will lead to unfairness amongst the possible beneficiaries of the estate, an eligible person can still make application to the court to intervene and adjust how the estate is apportioned between the eligible statutory beneficiaries. We are specialists in this area and can advise and recommend the best options to protect and safeguard the rights and interests of eligible claimants.