Disputes over Wills – What are the main causes – Avoiding Will Disputes

A recent national survey revealed that over one third of Australians have experienced conflict over deceased estates.  Why ?  How can you minimise the risk? Read on….

The research conducted by Slater and Gordon Lawyers showed that the main causes of wills disputes are:
•  A sense that the assets were unfairly divided
•  The division of sentimental items, such as photos, letters or clothing
•  Differences of opinion around what the deceased would have wanted
•  The use of an asset such as a house
•  Unethical or unfair behaviour of the executor

The research also identified the main factors that could help minimise disputes:
•  Greater communication and clearer instructions while the person was still alive
•  A letter or video explaining their approach and reasoning
•  Those left behind adopting a less competitive approach to the distribution of assets

In my experience as an estate planning and asset protection lawyer, it is all too common for people to have Wills that do not clearly explain how and why their assets are to be divided. Uncertainly causes a great deal of added strain and stress on grieving family members …… what did s/he really mean is a question that resonates round the heads of those remaining behind, and the answers then to err on the negative.

Thank you to the copyright owner - home truths in a snapshot

Thank you to the copyright owner – home truths in a snapshot

To minimise the chances of a disharmony and dispute it is paramount that people clearly articulate in their wills how their assets are to be divided and communicate the reasons why to the family.  The earlier the better.  Sometimes a letter to the executor explaining their wishes can be very helpful.

The single most important thing is to avoid ‘surprises’ and ‘misunderstandings’ that arise when you have passed away.

Identify potential areas of dispute before you pass away, and address them yourself.   Communicate, communicate, communicate – before you pass away.  Don’t let your will be a grenade that you lob amongst your family from the other side.

Have individual meetings or even family meetings to explain yourself.  Just think – if you can’t resolve them when you are there to manage expectations, how do you think your family will resolve issues when you aren’t around? It’s not difficult to imagine what will occur.
Leave behind fond memories.   Don’t let your legacy be a family feud you created.

Have your will reviewed every three to five years to ensure it is current; and keep in mind that changed financial circumstances such as the acquisition or sale of an asset, births, deaths, marriages and divorces are just a few of the events that may require a will to be reviewed.

I’m a specialist estate planning lawyer + professional traveller + keen photographer + political observer. I like to share my experiences across all four devotions – often as a mixed lot. If you like this blog please subscribe for more.

 

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Disclaimer: this blog is of a general nature for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Readers should seek specific help for their specific circumstances.


While Marriage Kills Wills – Separation Doesn’t – EP Tip 4

 

Just separated, looking forward to a fresh new start.  Life beyond divorce…

 

Its greener and brighter on the other side.  Don't trip over the gate.

Its greener and brighter on the other side.  Don’t trip over the gate.  (A canola field in NSW)

Die before a divorce is finalised – chances are your Ex will inherit everything you own pursuant to your Will.

If you don’t have a Will  –  chances are your Ex will still get most …perhaps all… of your assets under the intestacy laws.  It varies a little depending on the jurisdiction you live in.  Just accept that the story doesn’t end happily for you….

Big concern, simple solution.  Do a new Will when you separate.

What happens when I get a formal divorce?

If you survive the separation period – then divorce will automatically alter your existing Will.   At least in many jurisdictions  –  but not all.  You need to check if you live in a lucky country.

Even is a lucky country the impact varies between the different States and Territories.  In some jurisdictions, divorce automatically revokes (cancels) the entire Will.  In others, divorce simply revokes any appointment of your former spouse as your executor and any gift you left your Ex unless:

• a court is satisfied that was not your intention;  or

• you re-do your Will or do a Codicil to the Will after the divorce without changing the appointment of your Ex as executor and/or a gift to him/her.

Rather than leave these matters open to dispute in the courts, it is much better for you to do a

new Will immediately after separation and then again (if necessary) once a property settlement is in place.

EP Tip 4:

Reviewing and updating your Will is just as important as creating one.   Separation from a partner is just one event that should jolt you into action.

 

Bigfoot-2

Don’t get stepped on

 

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2014 Travel Tips – Part 3 of 3 – Packing Checklists

Have you ever packed too much gear for a trip?  Or left an important item at home?

For years I loathed packing – even having to think about it.  Then I prepared a packing checklist.  The result….minimum thinking, no stress ….and no more mishaps.

I still pack at the last moment but gone are the days of throwing everything I possess into a huge bag.

A simple checklist – things I need to pack.  If it’s not on the list it stays at home.

It took me about 30 minutes to prepare my list.  I use it every time I travel.  No more days of stressing or kilos of unnecessary gear.

There is nothing more helpful than your own personalised checklist.

A customised packing list  is a useful tool, something you can manage and improve over time.

After every trip delete from the master list items you didn’t use – or make a note that they are only necessary under certain conditions – and to check the conditions for the next trip.  You’ll discover its often possible to travel with just cabin luggage.

There are many online APPS available online  – but I agree with Doug Dyment’s comments:

“There’s an [unnecessary] app for that™: You’ll find no shortage of packing list management applications, generally oriented to what most people believe that they require: a variety of lists for different situations, destinations, climates, etc. In my view, those who feel the need for specialized software to manage such list(s) are completely missing the point; thinking of packing lists in this fashion is actually detrimental to learning how to travel lightly. The successful light traveller uses a single list, updated infrequently. And this can be a simple text document; if you feel the need for some elaborate, feature-rich software to “manage” it, you’re making the wrong kind of list!

A Starters Packing Check List

Below is a list adapted from one originally composed by Doug Dyment.  You can find reference to his website in Part 1 of my Travel Tips Blog series see the link to Travel Tips – Part 1 at the end of this blog

 Remember its a checklist, not a list of things to take….use it as a “worst-case scenario”.   Modify it to suit your personal requirements and travel plans.  If going on a three-day business trip – your bag should only contain a few of the items on your list. If you’re going on a long trip then you’ll tick off many more items….common sense should prevail.

Remember my mantra ‘if it’s not on the list it stays at home’

So here goes…..

CHECKLIST

dressy jacket   Clothes washing powder/liquid
2-4 shirts/blouses/tops   (surgical latex braid) clothesline
2 pairs trousers/skirts (shorts?)   universal (flat) sink stopper
3+ pairs socks        water bottle
3+ underwear        toilet paper,
swimsuit       antibacterial wipes / liquid
jumper / sweater       (chemical or mechanical) water purifier
rainwear (umbrella?)   analgesic of choice
parka, coat, or equivalent   diarrhoea treatment of choice
pyjamas   infection treatment of choice
necktie, scarf, shawl, hairband,   malaria tablets
bandanna   insect repellent, mosquito net
gloves / mittens   sunscreen, lip balm
sun hat / knitted cap, hat clip   tweezers
1 pair dressy shoes   bandages (other first aid?)
1 pair walking shoes/boots   menstrual, contraceptive, and/or prophylactic supplies
thongs or sandals         vitamins, necessary medications
belt         dark glasses, retainer, case
          lens cleaning cloth/supplies,
travel pack or shoulder bag   copy of prescription (spare glasses?)
lightweight duffel/laundry bag         pen(s), small notebook, glue stick
luggage locks        maps, guidebooks, phrase books
spare batteries for equipment        Post-it® notes, membership cards,
business/calling cards
alarm clock/watch         telephone access numbers
flashlight, head-strap   reading materialrestaurant lists,
Tool with: knife, screwdrivers, pliers         passport, visas, extra passport photos
swiss army knife   vaccination certificates
safety pins, cord, fasteners, sewing kit   copies of important documents(international?) driver’s license, health insurance information, passport
    travel tickets
plastic bags, garbage bags        credit cards & ATM cards,
toothbrush, cap, tooth cleaner, floss        security pouch
razor, blades, shaving cream   camera (lenses? flash? tripod? extra cards & batteries? charger?)
comb and/or hairbrush   mobile telephone (charger/adapter(s)?)
shampoo, bar soap & container   travel computer (flash drive?)power cord/adapter(s)? network cable(s)?)
deodorant   (solar) calculator
nail clippers   gifts
viscose towel (washcloth?)   inflatable travel pillow
[unbreakable] mirror   earplugs (sleep mask?)
packing bags    
sunscreen    
     


Having prepared your own list you can begin to test it and modify it to suit yourself – but remember the mantra – ‘if it’s not on the list – its stays at home’

Having checked these things you can safely head to the airport.

Website links

1          Unconventional Conventions: www.uncon-conv.com

2          click this link to the Travel Tips listed in my first blog in the Travel Tips series:  Travel Tips Part 1 of 3 – Helpful Tips for all travellers

3          click this link to the Packing Checklist listed in my third blog in the Travel Tips series:  Travel Tips Part 2 of 3 – Pre-Departure Checklist

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