Wills, Probate & Estate Lawyers in Parramatta

Estate planning is essential to give you peace of mind, knowing that when you pass away, your wishes will be carried out. A loved one dying can also bring legal issues, such as contested wills, which may lead to you needing the services of an estate lawyer.

CK Lawyers are the people to call when you need estate lawyers or probate lawyer in Parramatta, NSW, and we work with clients across the Sydney area. Estate planning can be confusing, so it’s important to work with an estate solicitor who can discuss the legal requirements of making a will or help you with a dispute.

A Will Lawyer helps you plan helps you plan for the future

All adults should have a will, and an estate solicitor makes the process easier, which ensures your assets go to the people you nominate. A will lawyer can also help protect your estate from excessive taxes and orders such as a Family Provision Claim. Even if you have a small estate, you should consider working with a qualified will solicitor to give you peace of mind and ensure your loved ones are taken care of if the worst should happen.

An estate solicitor can also help with documents such as Powers of Attorney and Advanced Healthcare Directives, which ensure your family know what to do if you suffer a debilitating health condition.

An Estate Lawyer gives you peace of mind knowing that your loved ones will get what you had intended

You can rest assured that our estate lawyers in Parramatta have the knowledge and expertise in every aspect of Estate Planning, Probate, and contested wills. Wadia Mansour has been with CK Lawyers since 2001. She practices almost exclusively in Wills and Estates as well as Property Law and holds an additional Master of Laws in Wills & Estates.

Wadia can help you:

  • Ensure that your Estate goes to the people you nominate. We encourage you to read our article on this page – My Assets, My Will that will explain how an estate solicitor can protect your Estate from a Family Provision Claim.
  • Protect your beneficiaries from unnecessary personal tax by using a Testamentary Trust.
  • Obtain justice in any contested Will proceedings.
  • Plan to ensure that your trusted loved ones can make decisions about your assets, where you live and what medical treatment you receive.

What we do

Our estate solicitors can help with every aspect of Estate Planning and the administration of your estate including:

  • Wills & Testamentary Trusts
  • General Powers of Attorney
  • Administration of a Will
  • Probate Law
  • Enduring Powers of Attorney
  • Advanced Health Care Directive
  • Wills & Estate disputes
  • Enduring guardianship
  • Making or defending Family Provision claims

A will solicitor can give consideration to numerous issues that could affect a client’s estate such as:

  • Examination of all estate assets, superannuation and life insurance
  • The beneficiaries’ specific circumstances
  • The effect of the plan on other businesses and trusts

Our Fees

We believe in being honest and open about the fees that we charge. If you have been searching online for a Will lawyer in Parramatta for a while you may see this as a refreshing change. Where possible and the outcome can be predicted with a degree of certainty, we will fix our costs. If we cannot, we will provide you with a realistic estimate of the fees at our initial conference. If you engage us in the matter anytime after meeting with us, we will as a token of our appreciation, credit you with the initial conference fee.

We do not charge for photocopying, faxing, the cost of a telephone call and all those other costs that some law firms charge.

Our Fixed Fees are:

  • Standard will for a single person $ 500
  • Standard will for a couple $ 800 for both.
  • Complex wills be charged at a rate of $ 330 per hour. An estimate of our fees will be provided before you agree to use us.
  • Testamentary trusts for a single person $ 500
  • Testamentary trusts for a couple $ 800 for both.
  • Power of Attorney (Normal and Enduring) for a single person $ 500
  • Power of Attorney (Normal and Enduring) for a couple$ 800
  • Enduring Guardianship $ 500
  • Probate of a Will or Letters of Administration as per the Legal Profession Regulations schedule. See link
  • Administration of an Estate according to Will or intestacy, will be charged at $330 per hour. A written estimate of our fees will be provided before you agree to use us.
  • Contesting a Will, will be charged at $330 per hour. A written estimate of our fees will be provided before you agree to use us.
  • Acting for Executor in defending the estate $330 per hour. A written estimate of our fees will be provided before you agree to use us.

When you need a specialist estate planning or will dispute lawyer to take you through this often-complex process, CK Lawyers in Parramatta can help. Based in the Sydney, NSW area, you can contact us on 02 9687 6000 or e-mail us at gen@cklawyers.com.au for help with all aspects of estate planning and wills.

Articles

My Assets, My Will – Protecting your Estate from a Family Provision Act claim

Even though you have prepared a will setting out your wishes, some eligible people like children, ex-spouses, dependants or those that have a close personal relationship with you may still make a claim against your estate when you pass away, effectively against your wishes. These people can make a claim against your estate for the court to make provision for them because the Will inadequately provided for them. A claim is made under the NSW Succession Amendment (Family Provision) Act.

For many people the thought that their assets will go to people they do not want it to is horrifying. There are many reasons why a parent does not want their hard-earned assets going to a child, dependent past or present, or a former spouse. The good news is that there are things that can be done to protect your estate from claims of others. This page has been prepared to help you understand what may be available to you. The law in this area is quite complex so we recommend that you receive legal advice from a lawyer specialising in Estate Planning and where necessary a financial advisor.

What you can do to protect your assets

One important thing to note is that each of these options are only available while you are still living. The executor of your estate will be powerless to implement any of these options after your death.

  • 1. Transferring assets outright to the intended beneficiary now
    You can transfer your personal assets to the people that you would like to inherit your estate now. Gifts made while you are living and of sound mind do not form part of the assets of your estate when you die and therefore a Family Provision claim cannot be made against these assets. If gifts are made it would be wise to have these gifts recorded in a document prepared and witnessed by your lawyer.It is wise that you receive good legal and tax advice before doing so as stamp duty may be payable on Real Estate and other assets and Capital Gains Tax may apply.
  • 2. Purchase property or change existing property to “Joint Tenant.”
    In New South Wales, you can purchase real estate property as tenants in common or as joint tenants. If you own property as tenants in common when one of the joint owners dies that property forms part of their estate and is open to a Family Provision claim. However, if the property is owned as joint tenants the property automatically passes at death to the other joint tenants. This property does not form part of the estate of the deceased and therefore is NOT open to a claim under the Succession ( Family Provision ) Act.
    For example, an elderly couple who sell their home to down-size may purchase the property as join tenants. If they trust children who they desire will inherit the property they could include them on the title of the property as joint tenants. This would mean that when the parents died the children listed on the property as joint tenants would become the lawful owner of the property upon death and a claim cannot be made against this asset.It is also possible to change the nature of the ownership of property from tenants in common to joint tenants. The heavy costs of Stamp Duty and Capital Gains Tax implications will need to be considered, but some exemptions might apply if transferring to a spouse. We can advise on both the legal and tax implications of such a transaction.
  • 3. Transfer assets to a trust
    You can transfer assets to a discretionary trust. A discretionary trust operates by having a legal owner (“Trustee”) administer a deed. This deed dictates who the beneficiaries are and what they are entitled to. It also enables the trustee to divide the income generated by the trust and / or the capital itself in any way which the trustee wants if the power is in the deed.The law imposes several obligations upon the trustee. One of these obligations is that the trustee has a duty to act in good faith. This requires the trustee to do what is generally in the best interests of the trust.This works after death in that the asset is not owned by you , but by the trustee, therefore it is not part of your estate and therefore is safe from any claims under the Family Provision sections of the Act.

    Alternatively, you may decide to declare a trust, which will result in you the owner controlling the asset however it will be for the benefit of the named beneficiary. You will need to comply with the Trustee Act and must faithfully comply with your fiduciary responsibilities. Again, effectively you are transferring ownership from you to the trust so the asset does not form part of your estate upon death and therefore cannot be the subject of a claim of Family Provision pursuant to the Succession Act.

    Stamp Duty and Capital Gains Tax considerations will need to be assessed before implementing this strategy.

  • 4. Options
    This is a less common strategy but is certainly a very effective way of retaining control as long as possible and the process enables your closest beneficiary to opt in and buy the assets from your estate when you pass away presumably on most favourable terms.It is very important that your beneficiary has paid valuable consideration for the option.This works by having a deed (document) wherein you give your preferred beneficiary AN OPTION to buy the property from your estate on favourable terms once you have passed. So you could give a child an option to purchase your family home from the estate for a certain price. The value of the house may be $750,000 and you give them the option to purchase the home for $100,000.

    Stamp duty, Capital Gains taxes and in some instances GST implications will need to be considered.

  • 5. Superannuation
    Funds that are held in a superannuation fund do not form the assets of a person’s estate for distribution under the terms of a will. The Superannuation Fund will distribute the money held in Superannuation to the person(s) you have nominated in a binding death benefit nomination. This distribution cannot be challenged by a claim under the Family Provision sections of the Succession Act. We recommend that you check with your superannuation provider to ensure that you have completed a binding death benefit nomination as some declarations can be non-binding.

WORD OF CAUTION:

For methods 3, 4 and 5 to work, regard must be had to the Notional Estate part of the Succession Amendment ( Family Provision ) Act – if you fail to properly plan for those sections, then you are setting your whole plan to fail. Part 3.3 of the Act essentially expands the deceased person’s estate – for the purposes of the operation of that Act – beyond those assets which are in the deceased’s name at their death.

If you are wise about your estate planning, you can prevent or limit the claims that can be made against your assets. This may mean that unnecessary claims and legal costs will not diminish the size of your estate.

WADIA MANSOUR

A specialist in property law and Wills and Estates, Wadia has been with CK Lawyers since 2001. She has a Diploma in Law, Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, A Masters of Laws (Wills & Estates) and an Advanced Diploma in Conveyancing. Wadia was admitted to practice as a solicitor in the Supreme Court of NSW in February 2013. Prior to admission Wadia worked in conveyancing which she continues as well as probate and other estate work.

Testamentary Trusts – Life and Death connection

A testamentary discretionary trust is simply a discretionary trust established by a will. It is also sometimes called a protective trust. To gain more beneficial treatment – a family trust election must be made for tax purposes.

A testamentary discretionary trust can also be established for the benefit of non-family members, or even organisations such as charities – but the benefits, especially tax concessions, are fewer where family members are not the beneficiaries and the exercise is therefore usually less worthwhile.

Testamentary discretionary trusts can protect assets from any creditors of beneficiaries in the event that they are sued, or become bankrupt, as the asset will be held by the trustee, not the beneficiary. Such trusts may also avert family provision claims against the estates of deceased beneficiaries, as again beneficiaries will have no personal ownership of assets. There is also some degree of protection of assets and income held for a beneficiary in a testamentary discretionary trust for a beneficiary, from any spouse of that beneficiary if they become involved in family law proceedings.

Testamentary discretionary trusts also provide a means of accessing favourable taxation treatment by ensuring all beneficiaries use their income tax free thresholds. In relation to losses and franking credits a family trust election can secure tax advantages otherwise unavailable, provided that the trust passes the family control test and makes distributions of trust income only to beneficiaries of the trust who are members of the family.

For testamentary discretionary trusts which are not family trusts, flexibility as to when and to whom to distribute income can still provide tax advantages.

The tax benefit of a testamentary discretionary trust as against an inter vivos trust is that distribution of income to minors is taxed in the hands of minors at normal marginal rates. They therefore get the benefit of the tax-free threshold and the low rates of tax enabling payment of their school and other expenses either tax free or with little tax. An elderly testator with six young grandchildren can provide significant tax savings to the parents of those children in this way.

Testamentary discretionary trusts are not appropriate for everyone. It is important to considering the family members, their current and future financial circumstances – including their businesses, companies, other trusts of which they are beneficiaries and do they expect to receive a substantial inheritance from others.

Sometimes you might legitimately be concerned that you loved ones will squander an inheritance, because of a drug abuse, alcohol abuse or mental issues. Testamentary trusts are a wonderful tool of providing for them without giving them control over the asset.

How?

Your lawyer will meet with you to explore your circumstances. The trust is set up by way of a Deed. There are several off the shelf deeds you may use, but is best that even if you resort to this, you consult with a lawyer and your preferred tax advisor to ensure that the deed is suited to your needs. A good standard trust Deed will set you back about $500 but a complex one will cost you more. We will provide you with a quote for our services before starting any work.

You will be called the settlor and appointor of the trust.

Those whom you want to see benefit will be called the beneficiaries

Often the trustee, who will administer the trust deed, is a company set up for that purpose. Your solicitor can establish a company for you at a cost of between $800 and $1200. Using a company for a trustee gives the advantages of flexibility and that the directors are bound by the Corporations Law Act, in addition to the trustee’s fiduciary (good conscience) duties.

It is crucial that you get the right legal, tax and financial advice when considering a testamentary trust –

Our Will Dispute Lawyer in Parramatta can help with contested wills

A loved one dying is extremely distressing, and it’s only made worse if there are issues with the will. Unfortunately, a death can bring a lot of issues among families, and if you wish to contest a will, you should contact a will dispute lawyer. CK Lawyers can assign you a will solicitor who can help protect you legally and help you get the best possible outcome in your situation.