Wills and Estate Planning

Wills are important and can often be simple and straightforward. However, in complex situations, a comprehensive Estate Plan is required.

Murfett Legal has one of the most experienced teams in Western Australia advising clients on Wills and Estate Planning. Our combined expertise in simple and complex Wills, Estate Planning litigation, taxation, property and commercial law ensures a comprehensive approach and professional advice. We are sought for our legal expertise and tax strategies for Estate Planning, trust administration and wealth protection. We ensure the right instruments, documentation and structures are put in place to effectively transfer the assets of deceased Estates, minimising the taxes that beneficiaries will have to pay.

An Estate Plan goes much further than a Will. It deals with the distribution of assets and wishes of a client while also ensuring beneficiaries pay substantially less in taxes, fees and court costs. Every client is different and we tailor our advice while drawing on decades of expertise in Estate Planning and documenting what happens to the ownership and control of Estate assets in the event of loss of capacity or death.

Clients seeking comprehensive Estate Planning will benefit from Murfett Legal’s experience and feel fully supported in making sound decisions with the right Estate Planning documents in place. Our approach is to understand your needs, together with your life circumstance, investments and business interests (including business succession planning, if relevant) so that we can provide the right legal advice and develop an Estate Plan that clearly reflects and facilitates your wishes.

Not everyone needs a comprehensive Estate Plan. However, it is vital to have your own Will that is up-to-date and personalised. We advise that a Will is reviewed every three to five years.  It will need to be updated after a change in circumstances, such as a significant alteration in assets, marriage, separation, divorce, retirement, adoption, birth or death.

Services We Provide

We take the time and effort to get to know what matters to our clients and offer a range of comprehensive Wills and Estate Planning services, including:

  • Existing Will review and update with improvements to reflect current circumstances and requirements;
  • Estate Planning dealing with the personal, business and financial requirements of our clients, tailoring advice and documents to ensure tax-effective outcomes for beneficiaries;
  • Drafting Wills, including simple and complex Wills containing trusts and special provisions;
  • Special trusts that are part of a Will, or by a separate trust;
  • Court applications for statutory Wills for those lacking testamentary capacity to make or change their Will;
  • Testamentary trusts and discretionary trusts (often referred to as 'family trusts'), tailored to the circumstances and needs of our clients with advice about taxation and asset protection;
  • Working collaboratively with clients’ existing advisors, including accountants and financial planners to ensure the Estate Plan is tailored to suit clients’ distinct needs;
  • Preparing Enduring Power of Attorney and Enduring Power of Guardianship;
  • Self-managed superannuation fund trust deeds;
  • Advance Health Directives;
  • Assisting executors to apply for, and obtain, probate of Wills from the Supreme Court;
  • Advising executors and trustees as to their obligations towards beneficiaries under Wills and trusts;
  • Advising clients about challenging or defending Wills; and
  • Conducting Estate litigation up to and including trial, including dispute resolution.

Finding an Estate Planning specialist is essential when making your Will. A professional will be able to help you draft your Will so that upon your passing, your assets can be given to those you have chosen. They will also assist you in creating an Estate Plan to minimise the risk of it being contested in the case of complex circumstances.

Murfett Legal has one of the most experienced teams in Western Australia, advising clients on Wills and Estate Planning. We provide advice tailored to your circumstances and tap into the expertise and support to make informed decisions about any Estate-related matter. 

Why Choose Murfett Legal?

Murfett Legal works closely with you to achieve the best Estate Planning outcomes, both in the short and long term. Our team of Wills and Estate lawyers maintain an exemplary track record by:

  • Delivering professional legal advice backed by a comprehensive knowledge of Estate law;
  • Maintaining up-to-date legislative awareness and a proactive approach;
  • Listening to and understanding the Estate Planning needs of our clients;
  • Maintaining open and clear communication with our clients;
  • Providing comprehensive Estate Planning services that are both highly professional and cost-effective; and
  • Ensuring the Estate is bequeathed to the intended beneficiaries in a professional manner.

Wills and Estate Planning Frequently Asked Questions

Does a Will need to be registered in Western Australia?

Although there is no national or state Will registration system currently in place, many specific legal requirements need to be followed for a Will to be a valid legal document. Unfortunately, for those trying to locate Wills, this can make them a burden to track down.

Do I need a solicitor to make a Will in Western Australia?

While it's not legally required to have a solicitor administer the writing of a Will in Australia, it is highly recommended, especially if your Estate is complex. A solicitor can ensure that your Will complies with legal requirements and truly reflects your wishes.

How do I make a Will in Western Australia and what should be included?
  • Consider your debts and liabilities: Before making a Will, it is important to consider your current debts and liabilities and any debts and liabilities that may arise as a result of your passing (including funeral expenses, legal costs, accounting costs, taxes and other disbursements).
  • Consider your assets and beneficiaries: Before making a Will, it's important to consider what assets you have, who you want to receive them and if there are any special circumstances to consider.  Any gifts and bequests in your Will should be specific and without any ambiguity. 
  • Choose an executor: An executor is the person who is responsible for carrying out the wishes in your Will. This can be a family member, a friend or a professional advisor.
  • Consult a lawyer: It is recommended to consult a Wills and Estate lawyer when making a Will to ensure that it is properly drafted and legally valid.
  • Write the Will: The Will must be in writing and signed by the Testator in the presence of two subscribing witnesses. A statement should be included that all previous Wills and codicils are revoked. 
  • Appoint a guardian: If you have children under the age of 18 years, you should appoint a guardian in your Will to ensure that your children are taken care of in the event of your death.
  • Keep the Will in a safe place: Once the Will is complete, it should be kept in a safe place such as a fireproof safe or with a lawyer.
  • Review and update the Will: It's important to review and update the Will regularly, especially if there are changes in circumstances such as the birth of a child, death of a beneficiary, or a change in assets.
What is the difference between writing a Will and Estate planning

While there are many similarities, an Estate Plan goes much further than a Will in dictating how your assets will be taken care of. In complex situations, an Estate Plan will be required to distribute the assets and wishes of a client. It will also help to ensure your beneficiaries don't pay too much in taxes, fees and court costs.

Everyone should have a Will, but not everyone will need to have a comprehensive Estate Plan. Our experienced team can help you make sound decisions about your Estate Plan and ensure the correct legal documentation is in place.

Get in touch with our team to learn more about our Wills and Estate Planning services today.

What are the legal requirements for a Will in Western Australia?
  • The Will maker (Testator) must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind, mental capacity, memory and understanding.
  • If a person is found to be of unsound mind and other less restrictive measures have been found insufficient, the Guardianship and Administration Act 1990 allows the State Administrative Tribunal to appoint them a guardian and/or administrator. A guardian can make some personal decisions on the person's behalf, while an administrator can make some legal, financial and property decisions.
  • The Will must be in writing and signed by the Testator (or by someone else at the Testator's direction and in their presence).
  • The signature of the Testator must be made in the presence of two witnesses, who must also sign the Will in the Testator's presence.
  • The subscribing witnesses must not be beneficiaries or related to beneficiaries in the Will.
  • Any changes to the Will (including codicils) must be in writing and also be signed and witnessed in the same manner as the original to ensure it remains a Valid Will.
  • The Will should be kept in a safe place and the executor of the Will and family members should be informed of its location.
Can someone with Power of Attorney change a Will in Western Australia?

No, a person with Power of Attorney cannot change a Will in Australia. A Will can only be altered by the person who made it, provided they have the mental capacity to do so. Power of Attorney only allows management of the person's affairs while they are alive.

How to make an application for probate in Western Australia?

  • Determine if probate is necessary: Probate is required if the deceased person owned real Estate, shares, substantial assets and/or a large amount of money in their own name. If the Estate is small or consists only of jointly owned assets, probate may not be required.
  • Identify the executor: The executor is the person named in the Will who is responsible for administering the Estate. If the Will does not specify an executor, a representative or one of the Testator's family members may apply to the court to be appointed as executor of the Testator’s deceased Estate. Alternatively, the Public Trustee may act as executor.
  • Prepare the application: The application for probate must be completed and lodged with the Supreme Court of Western Australia. The application must include an affidavit executed by the executor, an inventory of the deceased person's assets and liabilities and the original Will and death certificate of the deceased Testator.
  • Receive the grant of probate: If the court is satisfied that the Will is valid and the executor is suitable, it will grant probate. This gives the executor legal authority to administer the Estate.
  • Administer the Estate: The executor is responsible for collecting the deceased person's assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the Estate according to the terms of the Will.

Our Experienced Wills and Estate Planning Lawyers Can Help

Highly regarded as legally astute yet personable and pragmatic, the Murfett Legal team works to understand your situation and collaborates with you to meet your needs and provide professional legal advice.

If you require any assistance in drafting a Will or applying for a grant of probate, feel free to contact our team today.

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