Butlers News

All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. The Butlers Blog makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site & will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

Protecting your present while securing your future

Canadian entrepreneur Gerald Cotton died in December 2018. With him died the ability to access $145 million worth of bitcoin. Cotton’s widow, Jennifer Robertson, says in her affidavit "I do not know the password or recovery key. Despite repeated and diligent searches, I have not been able to find them written down anywhere”. While $145 million may be slightly more than the average asset misplaced when administering an estate, it is not uncommon for executors to struggle to find information regarding a deceased’s assets. Especially for those who take security seriously.
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619 Hits

Should Accountants be Drafting Wills?

Accountants and Will drafting.

Should Accountants be Drafting Wills?

As an Accountant or Financial Planner what would you do if a client asked you to draft their Will?  Do you know the risks?

Whilst the temptation to be holistic in your services to a client is understandable, this blog will offer some guidance, and identify the pitfalls of engaging in a legal practice which could contravene the requirements under section 12 of the Legal Profession Act 2008 (“the Act”).

Lets start with "Only Legal Practitioners may engage in legal practice under the Act".

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855 Hits

PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE ADMINISTRATION ACT: What you need to know...

PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE ADMINISTRATION ACT:

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

On 27 June 2018, the State Parliament heard the second reading of the Administration Amendment Bill 2018, which would increase the current amounts of the statutory legacies payable on Intestacy. The proposed changes will have a significant effect on what happens if a person dies without leaving a valid Will.

If you die without leaving a valid Will, your Estate will be distributed in accordance with the Administration Act 1903 (WA). This situation is called an “Intestacy”. The person who has died is then said to have died “Intestate”.

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1036 Hits

Privacy and my Lawyer.... how far does that go?

It's true that any communication between you and your lawyer is confidential.  It cannot be divulged, discussed or provided to other people or the Courts. This concept is known as Legal Professional Privilege or for the sake of this blog, LPP.  It's the backbone of the honest relationship a lawyer and their client must have at all times.  But did you know LPP can be waived or lost? Did you know that your former-wife, husband or partner may be able to access the entirety of your Family Law file once you die? Here’s how and, more importantly, how to prevent it.

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1309 Hits

Who will look after my children if I die? Why every parent needs a Will.

Have you ever thought about who would look after your children if you die?

If you have a properly drafted Will and one that nominates a testamentary guardian for your children there is no need to read much further, but please take some time to review your Will if it is more than 3 years old or your circumstances have changed since drafting it.

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2855 Hits

Avoid legal limbo - create a valid will

Avoid legal limbo - create a valid will

The Public Trustee has revealed that 50 per cent of Western Australians over 40 do not have a valid will. With litigation regarding wills increasing in Australia, it’s become more important than ever to create a valid will using a suitably qualified, experienced solicitor.

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2151 Hits

iPhone 10 yes please....get your priorities right!

In a recent Supreme Court Decision, Kenneth Martin J made the remark that society as a whole simply do not appreciate the importance of having a valid, up to date Will.
He stated that:
“Wider public educational efforts should be made to advance the general state of knowledge of the community on these matters, in my respectful view. This is an age where people outlay significant amounts on a regular basis to update their phones - so they are equipped with the latest technology. But a small outlay to correctly execute a will to secure potential benefits for loved ones and dependants should be an elevated priority. A person's last will is perhaps the most important document that they will ever sign in their lifetime. The long-term worth of leaving a valid will always exceeds the cost of a new electronic device.”

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1869 Hits

I’ve separated from my partner – is my Will still valid? Can I revoke it?

I’ve separated from my partner – is my Will still valid? Can I revoke it?

When something difficult or unexpected happens in life, it can be hard to wrap your mind around anything other than the distress or shock you’re feeling. People often come to us for advice after separating from their husband, wife or partner and one thing we always ask is whether they have considered the consequences of their separation on their Will.

We understand that discussing your death is hardly a desirable conversation, especially when you’re going through a separation, but we have also seen the impact that taking no action can have on a person’s family and friends.

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2873 Hits

When a loved one dies...

When a loved one dies, there are a thousand questions running through everyone’s mind.

Did they have a Will? What funeral arrangements should be made? Who should we notify?

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3304 Hits

Butlers awarded Doyle's Guide 2016

Doyle’s Guide is considered a prestigious recognition in the Legal Industry as an independent guide to the legal profession in Australia that awards the best lawyers, barristers and law firms in the industry.  Within each area of law, and for each State, rankings are allocated, identifying pre-eminent, leading and recommended practitioners.  Further, the guide recognises law firms specialising in specific areas of law.  What makes the guide special is the process by which these rankings are decided.   Feedback is gained by counsel and peers practising in Australia, who identify firms and individuals through surveys, telephone and face to face interviews.

Butlers are proud to be recognised in Doyle's Guide for Leading Family & Divorce Law Firms – Western Australia, 2016 and John Butler, personally in Leading Family & Divorce Lawyers – Western Australia, 2016. 

We look forward to continuing to offer our Clients exceptional service in all areas of Family Law and Wills & Estate Planning in Western Australia.

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3346 Hits

The real cost of DIY Wills

There are some things in life that are just so much better when they’re homemade. Like Mum’s secret recipe sponge cake with fresh strawberries. A hand knitted beanie. Or even a handmade birthday card from your 5 year old niece. But then there are some things that are just better left to the professionals.

Why is it that we’re more willing to let the experts take the reins on some things than others? I wouldn’t try to replace the chipped windscreen in my car, because I don’t have the tools or the skills to do it right – and if I don’t get it right the risk is that I will hurt myself (or even worse, someone else) and end up costing myself a lot more money than I would have forked out if I’d just left the job to the right people in the first place.

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3822 Hits

To describe or not to describe?

Whilst the plaintiff questioned whether the gift to Katherine was dependant or conditional on her being the de facto of the deceased at the date of his death, one of the defendants argued that the phrase, “my de facto wife” was merely descriptive and should be ignored.

The Court held that the Will is said to speak from the date of death. The Court reasoned that because Katherine was no longer in a de facto relationship with the deceased at the date of death, the intended disposition of his estate to Katherine should fail.

So, what do we, as practitioners, consider when drafting Wills for our clients? Are we doing our clients a disservice by describing the relationship of a beneficiary to the client without more? For instance, if a bequest is made to a friend,Joe Blow, of the client, and at the time of death, Joe Blow is no longer a friend of the client, then would the gift to the estranged friend fail? Was it the client’s intent that Joe Blow remained his friend in order to receive the gift? And more importantly, how could one prove that the relationship was no longer amicable?

I suppose if the description of a relationship to the client is just that…a description, then a bequest should remain valid. On the other hand, if it is the intention of the client to only benefit a particular person if he/she remains in the relationship described, then probably the best practice is to clearly state such an intention in the Will as a condition precedent to receiving the gift.

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2148 Hits

Choosing the Right Executor?

There is no single right or wrong, one-size-fits-all recommendation for everyone, but there are some useful questions you can ask yourself when thinking about who would be the right Executor for your Estate. Some of these questions are:

  1. Whom do I trust?
  2. Who would be equipped to make sensible, rational and fair decisions after my death?
  3. Who would be willing and able to take on the job, and could stand up to any pressure from my beneficiaries?
  4. Where does this person live, and how difficult would it be for them to act in the role?
  5. How old is this person, and are they likely to survive me or to be fit enough to do whatever is required?
  6. Has this person ever been bankrupt, or do they have a criminal background?
  7. Does this person have a parent or spouse (or anyone else in their life) who could influence them to make decisions in a certain way in the course of administering my Estate?
  8. How “messy” or complicated is the administration of my Estate likely to be?
  9. Should I appoint more than one person? If I do this, what do I want to happen if these people don’t get along, or can’t agree on something?
  10. Should I nominate a professional person or trustee company, knowing that this might come at a cost to my Estate, and might be disempowering for the loved ones I leave behind?
  11. Should I nominate a substitute Executor in the event that my first choice is unable or unwilling to act as my Executor?

If you anticipate that there is the potential for a claim against your Estate by a disgruntled beneficiary, you might not want to nominate that particular person (or any other beneficiary named in your Will) as your Executor. For example, if you want to leave your entire Estate to charity, rather than to your children, you might think twice about appointing your child as your Executor.

Every person (and every Estate) is different, so of course this cannot be an exhaustive list of things to think about when choosing your Executor. We encourage you to turn your mind to what is important to you, and what you wish for your loved ones after you’re gone.

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3963 Hits

Life after Death?

But it was established to the satisfaction of the Court that the 2009 Will had been signed at a time when the testator had already lost testamentary capacity due to certain delusional beliefs which she held. Accordingly, the Court decided the 2009 Will had no effect. That meant that the revocation of the 2006 Will was also ineffective. So the 2006 Will was rescued from its dusty grave, and was duly admitted to Probate. The case also demonstrates that in deciding which Will is valid, the Court makes up its own mind based on the evidence before it and does not simply follow any agreement reached by the parties.

In Williams v Schwarzback the question of which Will was valid was initially hotly contested; at a mediation the parties agreed that the 2006 was the valid Will. But the Court only decided in favour of the 2006 Will when it was satisfied that the 2009 Will was invalid. It did not simply rubber stamp the agreement of the parties, who had to put the necessary evidence of the testator’s delusions before the Court. This is an illustration of the rule that in contested Probate disputes one cannot simply get judgment by consent, even if the parties ultimately settle their differences.

Finally, it is good practice for testators, when they sign a Will, to write ‘revoked by Will dated….’ across the earlier Will; this practice helps to minimise confusion as to the status of the earlier Will. If the later Will is found to be invalid, the revocation is also invalid and the earlier Will is available to be admitted to Probate. The earlier Will may also be relevant if Family Provision proceedings are brought, even if the later Will is valid. So, as you can appreciate, at least in Probate matters, there can be life after death.

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2328 Hits

Should Accountants be drafting Wills?

Should Accountants be Drafting Wills?

What do you do when a client asks you to draft his/her Will?

If you’re an Accountant, Financial Planner, or a professional other than a Legal Practitioner, have you ever been asked to draft a Will for your client?

Whilst the temptation to be holistic in your services to a client is understandable, this article will offer some guidance, and identify the pitfalls of engaging in a legal practice which could contravene the requirements under the Legal Practice Act 2008 (“the Act”).

Continue reading
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  4732 Hits
4732 Hits

The law doesn't care if you're separated but not yet divorced... How your ex can end up with your money after you're long gone..

 

A relationship breakdown is one of the most traumatic things you’ll ever have to deal with in your life. Life as you know it is tossed completely upside down, and not only do you have to grieve the loss of the relationship, but you probably have to move, open new bank accounts, learn where everything is in a new supermarket, and sometimes even stop seeing some of your friends because your former partner got them in the split. While you’re sorting through 3 years’ worth of bank statements and trying to get your ex to agree that the kids can stay with you until 2.00pm on Christmas Day instead of 1.00pm, it might not feel like there’s much time to get your head around anything else.

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4458 Hits

The Family Court - A System in Crisis

One of the most frequently asked questions by people who have ever filed anything at the Family Court is ‘what’s the hold up?’.

The Family Court process is a slow one, and there are delays across the board - from the ‘simpler’ matters such as divorces, to litigated matters that are heading towards a trial. Divorce hearings currently have a wait-time of about three months. Similarly, it is not uncommon for litigated matters to run for 18 months to 2 years before the trial itself. Tack on another 6 months for the decision to be handed down once the trial has been completed, and you can understand the frustration, with people often feeling like their lives are ‘on hold’ pending the final outcome.

So, what’s the hold up?

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5100 Hits

Let’s get digital - who owns what?

Let’s get digital

Today, I went onto a social media website, and saw a photo I just had to share. I took a screen cap of the photo, and texted it straight on to a friend.

Sound familiar?

The technology that’s become a magical part of our daily routines didn’t even register in Marty McFly’s wildest dreams. If you had told the pre-teen me that one day I’d be able to take a photo, view it, and share it with 500-odd “friends” all within about two and a half minutes, or that I could spend my days doing nothing but watching videos of cats on my phone, I probably would’ve laughed in your face – and not just because I don’t think anyone actually has 500 friends. But, somehow, this is exactly the crazy world in which we live.

 

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6936 Hits

Facebook and Twitter and…Court - OH NO!

Facebook and Twitter and…Court - OH NO!

When the Facebook craze was in full effect I told myself I would never get an account. The way I saw it was why would I want to be “friends” with someone who I knew in grade 2, where our interaction was solely playing Lego together, and now all of a sudden some 20 years later he thinks that we’re old mates.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a Facebook account. I primarily use it to keep in touch with family and friends overseas and to share my frustration or delight in anything that happens in sport i.e. my New England Patriots winning the Super Bowl this year – Go Pats!

However I’m often both shocked and appalled at the things people post on Facebook these days. It’s incredible what happens when some people get behind a keyboard. While I understand Facebook and other social media outlets are platforms for people to opine about their thoughts, ideas, views and even what they ate for dinner, it is important to be mindful of what you post on the internet, including and especially social media sites.

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6541 Hits

Am I or aren't I? Part 2

Am I or aren't I?  Part 2

For those who have not read Part I of the blog please do so before reading any further Am I or aren't I Part 1.

For those of you who read the blog last week you’ll remember that I had left off with our client dying in hospital shortly after being cross examined.

The next day in Court we had the unfortunate duty of notifying the Federal Magistrate what had just happened and without missing a beat we made an Oral Application that our client’s nephew, as executor of our client’s estate, carry on the litigation. That was always going to be an uphill battle and it was rejected as there was the need for probate to be obtained on our client’s Will. It was a hurdle of course but one that we did not think would be any issue in overcoming. We were wrong. Our Application was met with a caveat in the Supreme Court put on by the other party’s solicitors as a result of our client having other family that was not in the Will. Notice had to be given to the other family members as to whether they wanted to intervene in the proceedings. That was met with responses of none of the family wanting to have anything to do with our client or the proceedings.

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4613 Hits