Following your death, your Executor is responsible for the administration of your Estate; this includes calling in the assets of your Estate, attending to payment of debts and liabilities, and distributing the net proceeds to the beneficiaries in accordance with your Will (subject to any direction of the Court).
There are various debts that must be considered in Estate administration:
Funeral expenses may be paid directly from the deceased’s bank accounts upon presentation of a certified copy of the Will and the funeral account to the deceased’s financial institution (however, this will result in freezing the accounts).
Costs of administration of the Estate
The Executor is authorised to engage professionals to complete the necessary works to administer the Estate. In doing so, the Executor personally engages accountants, lawyers, agents and other professionals, and in doing so the Executor is generally entitled to a full right of indemnity from the Estate in relation to the reimbursement of such properly incurred costs as an administration expense.
Aside from funeral, testamentary and administration expenses of the Estate (which take priority to other Estate debts in accordance with the Succession Act 1981 (Qld)), the remaining debts of the deceased and Estate must be paid prior to distribution of the Estate to the beneficiaries.
The Executor is not personally liable for the payment of such expenses, but rather they are borne by the Estate. In the event that the Estate does not have sufficient assets to attend to payment of all such debts, the Estate may become insolvent and be declared bankrupt.
The Executor becomes personally responsible for payment of Estate debts only in the circumstance where administration of the Estate has been completed without the Executor having given proper statutory notice to potential claimants.
If you would like to discuss the administration of an Estate, please contact our team on 07 5574 3560 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
An Enduring Power of Attorney appoints an “Attorney” to act on your behalf in relation to the administration of your affairs at a time of your choosing, including following your incapacity.
Such appointment can be made in relation to both financial and personal/health matters. Should no such document exists upon your incapacity, there are various courses of action that can be taken in relation to the appointment of persons to act for you.
Personal and Health Matters
Pursuant to section 63 of the Powers of Attorney Act 1998 (Qld) (the Act), your spouse (if the relationship is close and continuing) is considered as the statutory health attorney, and can make any decision about the health matter that the Principal could lawfully make if they had capacity (in accordance with section 62 of the Act).
In the event your spouse is unable or unwilling to act, the Act provides alternate appointments and an application can be made to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) for recognition of same.
QCAT can appoint a person to act as a Guardian for a person only if they are satisfied that the adult for whom the Guardian is appointed (the Principal) has impaired decision making capacity and that a decision maker is needed to ensure the Principal’s needs are met and protected.
Anyone who has a genuine and continuing interest in the welfare of the Principal can apply for appointment as the Guardian for such person. This power is not necessarily automatically given to your spouse.
Although there are provisions by which a health and finance attorney can be appointed to act on your behalf, this can be a lengthy and costly process and, in the event of your incapacity, can add additional stress to those persons already concerns for your welfare.
Further, a document specifically prepared by you which appoints your preferred Attorneys can provide additional instructions to such Attorneys (which instructions, if the Court were to make, would require additional processes and orders – some of which simply may not be possible). For example, in the event that you required your Attorney to deal with jointly held property or to make a nomination (binding or non-binding) to your superannuation trustee in relation to the payment of your member interests. As such terms can be important to the smooth and effective administration of your Estate, it is important to consider the drafting of a detailed Power of Attorney.
If you would like to discuss the drafting of your Enduring Power of Attorney, please contact Caitlin Bampton on 07 5574 3560 or via email to Caitlin@nautiluslaw.com.au.
In the matter of Calvin & McTier  FamCAFC 125 (12 July 2017), the Full Court heard an appeal by a husband who argued that an inheritance received FOUR years after separation should not be included in the property to be divided. The Full Court held that the property to be divided in a matrimonial matter is the property held by the parties at the date of HEARING, not date of SEPARATION.
The husband’s counsel submitted a number of legal arguments to defeat the inclusion of the inheritance, including the proposition that if the inheritance was to be counted – the later acquired inheritance should be subject to a separate finding as to division (in that case, the inheritance equated 32% of the property pool, which the trial court awarded 65% to husband, and 35% to wife). The Full Court did not agree. The Full Court determined that a trial court has discretion to make decisions as to the whole of the assets of the parties, including assets acquired long after separation. To make matters worse, the husband was left to pay the parties’ costs.
The lesson here is that if your beneficiaries are separated, but have not resolved matters by a binding financial agreement or court orders (far preferred because of the finality), then you should be revisiting your estate planning and contemplating proper testamentary trust structures with adequate appointor and guardian provisions.
Also, if you have separated, but believe the cost of making a binding financial agreement and/or seeking court orders is “too hard” or “not worth the expense”, think again. It is far better to divide what is your marital pool, than risk dividing what is your later accumulated wealth. Whilst adjustments and contribution weighting may allow for a factor which compensates for your later accumulated wealth, you most likely will lose part of that accumulated wealth.
Life is a gamble, sometimes you win the gamble.
If you aren’t up for the gamble, we welcome you to contact one of the estate planning and/or family lawyers at Nautilus Law Group. Please free to contact Katrina Brown on (07) 5574 3560 or by email.
A Will is one of the most important legal documents you will make and must be tailored in accordance with your individual needs. It sets out your wishes for the distribution of your estate and provides directions as to who is appointed as your executor and how they should manage your estate.
The failure to execute a Will before your death will mean that you die ‘intestate’, leaving your assets to be distributed in accordance with legislative provisions (in Queensland, this is pursuant to the Succession Act 1981 (QLD) (the Act) – other States have similar legislation), which may not be in accordance with your wishes.
Further, a failure to seek professional legal advice to prepare a Will, attempting to draft your own Will, or neglecting to make sufficient provision for your spouse, descendants and dependants may result in a Family Provision Claim against your estate.
What is a Family Provision Claim?
Family Provision Claims are made under Part IV of the Act and are the most common type of challenge to a Will. The Act provides that whether a person dies testate (having a Will) or intestate (without a Will), the court may, in its discretion, apply such provision as the court thinks fit having regard to the status of the individual making the claim and whether they qualify as a dependant on the deceased.
Who can make a Family Provision Application?
A deceased person’s spouse, child or dependant is entitled to bring a Family Provision Application seeking proper support and maintenance from the estate of the deceased. Each potential claimant will be considered in detail below.
At law, a person’s spouse is entitled to a distribution from the estate if they are the husband, wife, de-facto partner or a registered partner of the deceased.
The definition of child under the Act is broad. Children who may bring a Family Provision Claim include not only the deceased’s natural or legitimate children, but also step-children and adopted children. Foster children may bring a claim if they can establish that they were wholly or partially dependent on the deceased and were a member of the deceased’s household.
A claimant may also fall within the category of a Dependant, which is defined as “any person who was wholly or substantially maintained or supported … by that deceased person at the time of the person’s death being:
- a parent of that deceased person; or
- the parent of a surviving child under the age of 18 years of that deceased person; or
- a person under the age of 18 years.”
Accordingly, a dependant may be a parent of the deceasd person.
So – if a Family Provision Claim can be made in any instance, what’s the point in writing a Will?
In the event of a Family Provision Claim, the Will is one of the primary documents upon which a court will rely, as this document sets out the testamentary intentions of the deceased.
While there is no concrete method of preventing a Family Provision Claim being lodged – there are various methods by which the chances of a claim being lodged, or of such a claim being successful, can be decreased.
When a court considers a Family Provision Claim, the deceased’s views will be considered. However, there is no guarantee that the court will uphold the wishes contained within the Will if the claimant can demonstrate the need for proper support or maintenance. It is, therefore, paramount to consider every possibility which may arise, and to draft a Will that considers all potential claimants and provides security and protection to ensure your estate is distributed as you intend.
If you are excluding any of the potential claimants from receiving a distribution under the Will, or effecting a distribution that is less than what may be considered by a court to be “proper entitlement”, it is important that you record the reasons for such exclusion or reduction with either a clause included in the Will or alternatively executing a signed statement to be kept with the Will. There are various supplementary documents which can be prepared by your solicitor setting out the reasons a lesser provision was made for potential claimaints.
If you would like to speak to our estate planning team about drawing a Will or potential Family Provision Claims, please contact our office on 07 5574 3560 or via email at email@example.com.