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Wills & Estates

Wills and Estate Planning

Planning for your family’s future after you’re gone is a really important legal task. If you take the time now to make an effective legally binding Will and Testament you can save your family not only stress but money in what will undoubtedly be a difficult time for them.

Our team can help:

  • Advise you in regard to estate and Probate laws

  • Write a will that maximises the inheritance for your family

  • Set up family and testamentary trusts

  • Advise you in regard to choosing executors and guardians

  • Minimise the chance that your will is contested and subject to litigation

  • Safely store your will and other important legal documents

At the same time as considering your Will our Reservoir estate planning lawyers strongly recommend that you also put in place plans for any future incapacity through Power of Attorney and Guardianship documents. This will ensure that if you somehow become unable to make decisions about your finances, your medical treatment or living arrangements then the person or persons who you trust to make these decisions can do so unhindered


Contesting a Will

If you’ve been left out of a Will, or have been unfairly treated in terms of the amount of your inheritance you may be able to make a claim against the estate.

Who can dispute a Will?

It varies from state to state, but some of the people who may be entitled to claim include people who had a relationship with the deceased such as:

  • wife or husband

  • defacto or same sex partner

  • former spouse or defacto partner

  • child, stepchild or grandchild

  • parent of a child of the deceased

  • parent, brother or sister

  • someone who was financially dependent on the deceased

  • carer of the deceased

This is a very general guide only so please contact us to discuss your particular circumstances with our Will Dispute lawyers.

Is there a time limit?

Yes, there is. You have only 6 months from the date of their death to make a claim. In certain circumstances, our reservoir will lawyers might be able to obtain an extension of the time limit so please contact us to discuss your situation.

What if I don’t believe the Will was valid?

You can challenge a Will if you believe that the will is a forgery or if the person lacked the mental capacity to make a Will. You can also challenge a Will if you believe that undue influence was brought to bear upon the deceased or if there was fraud involved.

How do I make a claim?

First, contact our will lawyer, who can assess your claim and discuss the particular circumstances of your claim. If it’s worth continuing we will contact the executors and notify them of your claim. We will then gather evidence, prepare documents and make an offer to the executors. Many claims are settled through negotiation at this stage. If the matter isn’t resolved then our Reservoir Will Lawyers can lodge documents with the court to initiate proceedings. We can still negotiate and in some cases mediation will be required by the court. Failing all else, we will proceed to a court hearing wherein the evidence will be presented and the judge will make a decision.

We can help

At every stage of contesting or challenging a Will it’s important to have sound, experienced legal advice. We have the skills to negotiate on your behalf to avoid costly court fees, but if it comes down to court we also have the skills to fight on your behalf.

Powers of Attorney

Natoli Howell can help you with the four types of Powers of Attorney used in Victoria:


  • General Power of Attorney which appoints someone to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf for a specific period of time, for example, if you are overseas and need someone to manage your financial affairs while you are away.

  • Enduring Power of Attorney (Financial), which is used to appoint someone to make legal and financial decisions for you in the event that you lose the capacity to make those decisions yourself.

  • Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical Treatment), which is used to appoint someone to make medical treatment decisions on your behalf if you cannot make them yourself.

  • Enduring Power of Guardianship, which is used to appoint someone to make personal and lifestyle decisions on your behalf such as your living arrangements if you have lost the ability to make decisions for yourself.

Who can make a Power of Attorney or Guardianship

Anyone over the age of 18 who has the capacity to understand the nature and consequences of the document, who makes the decisions in the document of their own free will and who can communicate clearly what those decisions are.

When should I make a Power of Attorney Appointment of Enduring Guardianship?

Before you need them! These documents safeguard your interests in the event of something unforeseen – an accident or illness that robs you of your capacity to make decisions for yourself. It is better to be prepared and confident in knowing that the person you choose will be making important decisions about your money, your living arrangements and your health.

When does it start?

For a Power of Attorney (Financial) it begins when you nominate that it should. Powers of Attorney (Medical Treatment) and Powers of Attorney (Guardianship) only commence when you are unable to make your own decisions.

Who should I appoint to be my Attorney or Guardian?

You need to appoint someone your trust to make the right decisions. With a General Power of Attorney and an Enduring Power of Attorney (Financial) you can appoint more than one person to make the decisions jointly.

What are the legal responsibilities of my Attorney?

They are legally responsible to you and must act in your best interests. While you have mental capacity they must obey your instructions. They cannot give gifts to themselves or to anyone else unless you specifically authorise this and they must keep their finances and money separate from yours, keeping accurate records of all of their dealings with your money.

Who should I talk to about it?

It’s really important that you discuss these documents with a lawyer who can give you professional advice about your particular circumstances. It’s also vital that you discuss your wishes with your family to avoid unnecessary conflict and stress.

Do I need a witness?

Yes, these documents need to be witnessed by a person with statutory authority such as a solicitor or Notary Public.

Can I change my mind?

Yes, as long as you still have the decision making capacity to do so you can revoke or change these documents. This has to be done in a legally binding way, however, so please seek legal advice.


Probate and Deceased Estates

At Natoli Howell we understand that dealing with a deceased estate is one of the more difficult challenges in life. From mountains of paperwork to legal jargon and simmering family disputes, they’re the last things you want to deal with when you’re grieving the loss of someone important in your life.

So, let our Reservoir probate estates lawyers help you by:

  • Interpreting the Will of the deceased in terms of estate laws

  • Advising executors and trustees in regard to their duties and rights

  • Informing government bodies

  • Applying for Probate of the Will in the Supreme Court

  • Dealing with intestacy (where there is no Will)

  • Applying for Letters of Administration (if the Will is deemed invalid or is absent)

  • Identifying estate assets and liabilities

  • Obtaining valuations of estate property

  • Collecting estate financial assets including superannuation, bank funds, shares, outstanding loans, and insurance payouts

  • Selling or transferring estate property including estate auctions

  • Paying estate debts including mortgages, funeral costs, and testamentary expenses

  • Advising in regard to family and testamentary trusts

  • Administering trust funds

  • Distributing bequests and inheritances to beneficiaries

  • Organising information for estate tax returns

  • Family mediation and negotiation

  • Contesting wills

  • Defending estate litigation in the Supreme Court


Request a Consultation

Contact us to discuss your matter or arrange a consultation.

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