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Wills And Estates in Perth

Go To Court Lawyers offers comprehensive estate planning services for our clients. Our Perth wills and estates team is available to assist you with any testamentary tasks or probate processes, whether you are planning to draw up a will, or have been left in charge of a deceased estate. This article provides critical summary information in relation to drafting wills and administering deceased estates, and outlines some of the specific services that our team offers to clients.

Defining wills and estates in Perth

Someone leaves testamentary instructions in a last will and testament on the assumption that, after he or she passes away, an executor will carry out these wishes.  A will is legally binding in Perth, and an executor is obliged to carry out the wishes set out by the testator, except where the instructions are impossible or contrary to state or federal law. Once the testator passes away, most of their assets and liabilities are collectively known as the deceased estate.

What happens if there is no will?

If someone neglects to make a will and dies intestate in Perth, their estate is distributed according to the intestacy provisions contained in the Administration Act 1903 (WA). These provisions are designed to benefit the closest family of the deceased, and this means that the legislation makes no allowance for the deceased’s specific preferences for his or her estate. It is critical that everyone leaves behind valid testamentary instruction, so that upon their passing their wishes will be respected. For instance, it is necessary to leave a valid will in order to leave a bequest to a more distant family member or a close friend, to benefit a charitable institution, or to make provision for the care of a pet.

Making a will also allows a testator to leave more complete instructions for the better care of their loved ones. For instance, a testator can use their will as a vehicle to make provision for a vulnerable family member(such as a disabled child) to receive ongoing financial maintenance through a testamentary instrument such as a discretionary trust.

What is included in wills and estates in Perth?

It should be underscored that not all of the deceased’s debts and possessions ultimately become part of the deceased estate. For instance, some debts do not survive the passing of the testator: this includes higher education debts to the Commonwealth. In addition, some assets automatically transfer to another person upon the death of the owner, such as real property and cash accounts that are jointly held. Moreover, a testator with an insurance policy or superannuation account will often have made a binding death benefit nomination, so these assets never form part of the deceased estate.  

Wills and estates Perth: estate planning

While no one wants to dwell on mortality, making plans to provide for family and dependents is the kindest act that someone can do to for their loved ones. Some people only start estate planning when they approach retirement, or when they have a health scare, but every adult should have a will in place to account for unforeseen complications. A minor, in contrast, should not need to make a will unless they are already earning significant income or have assets held in trust. Someone under the age of eighteen can only legally make a will if he or she is engaged or married, or with the permission of the court.

A good estate plan goes further than making a will. While the primary aim of a will is to ensure the distribution of assets, careful attention to estate planning and the assistance of appropriate professionals can also ensure that beneficiaries will pay less in taxes and minimise fees and court costs.

Wills and estates Perth: services

Go To Court Lawyers can act for any interested party in wills and estates litigation, including a testator, executor, administrator, beneficiary, or claimant against the estate. Our team can give advice on:

  • Making a will, an enduring power of attorney or an advance health directive;
  • Establishing, varying or administering discretionary or unit trusts;
  • Planning for the smooth transition of business management; and
  • Appointing an executor to manage the deceased estate.

Disputing wills and estates in Perth

In Perth, there is a growing incidence of deceased estate litigation, as family members question a will or make Family Provision Claims against the estate. The Contested Wills Team at Go To Court Lawyers specialises in a range of deceased estate litigation, such as:

  • Contesting the distribution of the estate according to the Family Provision Act 1974 (WA);
  • Challenging the testator’s will on the grounds that it is not the latest will, that it was created fraudulently, or the deceased did not have testamentary capacity to make a legal, valid will;
  • Raising concerns about the executor’s management of the estate; and
  • Assisting an executor to apply to the Supreme Court of Western Australia for directions, grants and orders.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.


Nicola Bowes

Dr Nicola Bowes holds a Bachelor of Arts with first-class honours from the University of Tasmania, a Bachelor of Laws with first-class honours from the Queensland University of Technology, and a PhD from The University of Queensland. After a decade of working in higher education, Nicola joined Go To Court Lawyers in 2020.

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