A will is arguably the most important legal document that a client can make. Whilst most of us do have a will, it is most important that the will is also up to date and that the executors and the beneficiaries named in the will are still alive and appropriate for your wishes. Whilst many wills between husbands and wives are simple and straightforward to prepare, there can often be complications where there has been a second marriage and there are children of the first marriage who expect to share in their parent’s estate. Careful drafting of the will is necessary to balance the competing interests of the second spouse and the children of the first marriage.
Our firms are often retained to advise on complicated wills; for example where the beneficiary may have a legal disability and his or her special financial and housing needs require a unique solution.
Powers of Attorney
In some situations a power of attorney can be more important than a will. If you die without a will, an act of parliament will determine the order in which your family members will inherit your assets, however there is no law that will grant a power of attorney and therefore it is necessary to make one before it becomes necessary. The following fact situation shows how important a power of attorney can be, particularly in the case of more mature persons for whom dementia may be a concern. The example is the retired married couple who wish to sell their home (which they own together) and move into a retirement village. Unfortunately, one of the spouses is demented and does not have the mental capacity to sign legal documents for the sale of the house; if there had been a power of attorney in place, the spouse with legal capacity could have signed the sale contract and retirement village contract and the transaction would proceed. Without the power of attorney, an application to the Guardianship Tribunal would be necessary with the consequential delay and expense.
An important part of our practices relates to Probate and the administration of estates. We are often retained by clients who are executors of wills to assist and advise them on the procedures necessary to firstly obtain probate of the will and then to administer the estate according to the provisions of the will and the law. Complex questions can sometimes arise between the executor and the beneficiaries and we are always on hand to assist with the resolution of those issues. Because the principals and the solicitors at Hamer and Hamer have such a depth of experience, they can often provide a cost effective and simple solution to a problem that may seem insurmountable to a client.
As we act for a number of retired clients, we are often called upon to advise on the documents provided by retirement facility operators; these documents can sometimes be complex for the layperson because they may involve long term leases and disclosure of many matters required by law. To help you through the minefield of those documents, we are ready to assist. In addition, each of the principals and solicitors is familiar with the different accommodation available in the local area of their practice and can give useful information about the facilities and specialties available.