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WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO

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Why estates and trusts?  

We are passionate about this area of the law.  It is complex, technically challenging and often demands a candid and robust approach. The prevalence of disputes and legal issues relating to estates and trusts means that the job of lawyers in the area can have a significant social impact.  

Our underlying philosophy in doing this work is about adopting a view about the unique ‘personality’ of each dispute, estate or trust to direct strategy and problem solving.  

WE WORK TO COMBINE KNOWLEDGE AND INSIGHT TO DELIVER IMPACT IN EACH MATTER

KNOWLEDGE is about our technical skill and up-to-date knowledge of the law and practice in our areas of specialty   

Over the last decade, the workload in this area within private practice and the Courts has grown exponentially. The relevant law - and the factual circumstances that the law applies to - are deceptively broad and complex, and always changing as new Court decisions are handed down. Practising in this area requires specialist knowledge of the following areas that are covered in the Law Institute of Victoria’s specialist accreditation programme in Wills and Estates: • Wills and testamentary documents • Construction of wills and testamentary gifts • The law relating to testators and testamentary capacity • Grants of representation • Intestacy • Family provision claims • Estate litigation • Estate administration • Executors and administrators – their duties and powers • Trusts law • Property law • Superannuation and tax law • Powers of attorney and guardianship We are enthusiastic about maintaining an advanced knowledge of the specialised law and practice in our area. Click here for recent case updates The demographics of wealth succession are also in the process of changing and becoming more complex. The retirement and wealth succession arising from the so-called baby boomer generation will increasingly demand broad legal experience and the capacity to grapple with complex corporate and trust structures. An estate might involve assets in the deceased’s name but also control mechanisms in related asset structures, such as superannuation funds, companies, businesses and trusts. In particular, trusts have been widely adopted in recent decades for the asset protection and tax minimisation benefits, but their legal operation is frequently misunderstood or ignored. Our broader experience within commercial practice, as well as our previous experience with complex estate administraton and disputes, makes us uniquely suited to the more complex challenges that lie ahead.

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INSIGHT is about getting to the bigger picture dynamics or the ‘personality’ of the matter

Our broader legal expertise and experience allows us to bring unique insights to our legal advice and practice in our area of specialty. But our ‘insight’ also refers to the purposive approach we bring to our work in assisting clients and beneficiaries to navigate estates and trusts. Disputes about estates and private trusts invariably involve human and familial dynamics. As a result, the solutions to legal problems frequently overlap with broader considerations about those economic, social and human dynamics. Our aim is to harness those broader insights to guide the way we plan, communicate and direct a resolution of each administration or dispute.

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IMPACT is achieved by synthesising legal knowledge and insight to inform strategy, communication and to deliver impact. 

The prevalence of disputes and legal issues relating to estates and trusts means that the job of lawyers in the area has a real-world impact. The people affected are frequently reluctant to engage in a legal process at all but have found themselves in need of legal assistance following the death of a loved one after becoming embroiled in a dispute. The prevalence of ‘reluctant’ clients and stakeholders (ie beneficiaries) means that there is huge social impact of estate and trust disputes, and a demand for these matters to be handled efficiently and sensitively. We aim to deliver impact in each administration or dispute by synthesising legal knowledge and practical insight to direct strategy, communication and solve problems. In our administrations, we approach the planning and reporting about the estate or trust administration by developing a ‘lifecycle plan’ to match the personality of the matter. That plan documents the practical steps – large and small – that will be required to finalsie the estate and allow for regular, cost-effective reporting to interested parties. In our dispute work, why do insight and impact matter? Why not ‘winning’? We are tenacious litigators. But disputes involve inherent uncertainty. There are wins and losses – and always a huge financial and emotional investment. Frequently the impact is felt in the way the process runs and whether the right strategy is adopted for a client’s needs or the circumstances of the case. An architect doesn’t ‘win or lose’ but plans, designs, considers the function of their work and helps you visualise an outcome. Lawyers can achieve very positive results by taking the same approach.

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