Wills & Estate Planning

Making a will is certainly not an exciting prospect, nor one that any of us would really like to entertain, however planning for your family’s future after you’re gone is a really important legal task. Take the time now to make an effective legally binding Will is sure to save your family not only stress but money in what will undoubtedly be a difficult time for them.

Why make a will?

If you don’t have a will in place when you pass away, all of your worldly possessions will be divided up after consultation with the Law of Intestacy. This can have drastic repercussions in any many of ways. This situation is frightfully common and often results in a strained legal battle that takes it toll on all the parties and fractures families. The worst-case scenario is that you die leaving behind no close relatives, in which case your possessions and remaining money are deemed property of the Crown, no matter how influential a friend or loved one had been in your life.

We often hear people say “Oh, it will all go to my spouse/children anyway”. Whilst this may be technically correct depending on your individual circumstances there is a bitter difference between administering the estate of an intestate person (person who dies without a Will) and a person who left a valid Will, both in terms of time to administer the estate and cost. When administering the estate of an intestate person the Supreme Court of NSW has vastly more requirements than the simpler Probate checklist for those with a Will. This might include advertising costs, costs expended writing to various lawyers, NSW Trustee and Guardian, banks and institutions to ascertain whether or not the deceased held a Will as well as Affidavits explaining lineage which may require the administrator to expend funds applying for marriage, birth and death records both here and overseas. None of this is required in the administration process where a Will exists.

Drafting your Will

The most important task of this whole process is the actually writing a Will, and the first thing you must do is to appoint someone to entrust with this responsibility. Although you can write a Will yourself, or use a Will Kit it is deeply unadvisable due to the excessive legal elements involved. We have been involved in a significant amount of litigation trying to unravel the mess informal or self-drafted Will kits leave behind. The expense to the estate can be in the tens of thousands. A basic Will is extremely affordable, and if your estate requires a more complex plan, we will generally always draft a basic will first at no cost.

Our Wills and Estate Planning lawyers can help:

  1. Take instructions and advise you on the best estate plan;
  2. Draft basic or complex wills, depending on your individual needs;
  3. Establish a testamentary trust to protect the interests of family members and maximise your family’s wealth;
  4. Advise you in regard to nominating executors and guardians and what the practical implications of your nominations are on your death;
  5. Minimise the chance that your will is contested and subject to litigation;
  6. Advise in regard to superannuation nominations and life insurance policies;
  7. Safely store your will and other important legal documents at no cost.

At the same time as considering your Will, depending on your circumstances and age we may recommend that you also put in place plans for any future incapacity through Power of Attorney and Guardianship documents. This will ensure that if you somehow become unable to make decisions about your finances, your medical treatment or living arrangements then the person or persons who you trust to make these decisions can do so unhindered.

Why use our services instead of the NSW Trustee and Guardian (formerly Public Trustee)?

The NSW Trustee and Guardian traditionally did not charge a fee to use their services on the proviso that they were left as the executor of the estate. They now charge a fee for their Will service. In our experience estate administration and finalisation is more costly with the NSW Trustee and Guardian as they charge a percentage of the estate. Administration of the estate can take anywhere from 12 – 18 months and complex estates can take years.

At Godden Lawyers you will have a dedicated solicitor handling the estate who is familiar with your family’s circumstances. We aim for a quick turnaround and distribution so that your family may get on with their lives.

Contact us to find out more or to arrange a consultation with one of our will and estate planning lawyers.

Our commitment to the Community

We are committed to improving the range and accessibility of its services to all older customers and customers with a disability. It’s part of our commitment to our community. We want to use our resources so that we make a positive contribution to our community. Please ask about our fee free services for seniors.

Godden Lawyers also partners with many charities, notably:

  • The Australian Cancer Research Foundation – Each year we hold an annual Wills Day and families/individuals in the Hills District attend our offices to have a basic Will drawn up at a reduced cost of $75 – all proceeds assist the Foundation and participants often bequeath a voluntary gift to the Foundation in their Will.
  • The Cancer Council of NSW – We partner with the Cancer Council of NSW Pro Bono service and assist terminally ill persons suffering from cancer with their estate planning needs at no cost. Our commitment to this partnership is long standing.