Wills and Estate Lawyers Canberra

If you don’t know what to do, or whether to do anything at all, ask yourself what you wish you had done, if the worst happened tomorrow.

Death, wills and estates are not something we like to think about.

Death is an unavoidable part of life, and unfortunately, we don’t all know when it may come. It may be tomorrow, a couple of years from now, or (hopefully) decades into the future. No matter when it is, it’s best to be prepared.

This preparation is in the form of a legal document - an estate plan, and everyone over the age of 18 should have one.

What Our Canberra Estate Planning Lawyers Look At

Who makes decisions and how assets are distributed after you have died.
What happens with and planning for assets that are both inside, and outside of your estate.
Who can make decisions (financial and medical) if you’re alive but unable to make decisions for yourself.
Protecting your assets from bankruptcy and family law claims.
Structuring your estate so it provides appropriate protections and tax advantages.

What Our Wills and Estate Lawyers Can Do For You

Every person’s estate and estate planning documents will differ and depend on their circumstances. Some common documents that may form part of your will and estate planning include:

  • Wills
  • Testamentary trusts (including protective trusts)
  • Enduring Powers of Attorney (ACT and NSW)
  • Appointment of Enduring Guardianship (NSW)
  • Health Directions (ACT) and Advanced Care Directives (NSW)
  • Death Benefit Nominations (Binding and Non-Binding) for superfunds and life insurance
  • Succession deeds for already existing trusts
  • Letters of Wishes
  • Private loan agreements
  • Prenups (Binding Financial Agreements)

Probate and Estate Administration

Navigating probate and estate administration requires expert guidance from a wills and estate lawyer so that assets are distributed according to a decedent’s wishes. Consulting with knowledgeable estate lawyers ensures compliance and facilitates a smooth transition during these emotionally charged times. Proper representation minimises deceased estate disputes and protects beneficiaries’ interests.

Contesting a Will

Certain people can contest a will if they believe they have not received adequate provision or there are issues with the legitimacy or interpretation of a will. The possibility of someone contesting your will can be deeply emotional, especially when it comes to estranged family members, former spouses and blended families. The laws around contesting a will vary from state-to-state. Our Canberra estate lawyers can advise you if your will is vulnerable to being contested in both the ACT and NSW, and how you can prepare your will and structure your estate, to minimise the risk of someone contesting your will, and ensure the rights and interests of your intended beneficiaries are protected.

Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document that grants one individual (attorney) the authority to act on behalf of another individual (the principal). This authority can range from specific tasks, such as managing a single financial transaction, to broader powers, like making medical decisions. There are various types of POAs, including general and enduring. It’s essential to draft a POA with precision to ensure the principal’s wishes, including financial circumstances and interests, are adequately safeguarded.


1. Get in touch

Book a phone call or appointment with us, to discuss your circumstances and wishes. After this call/appointment, we will provide some recommendations about your estate plan and confirmation of our costs to prepare your plan.This call/appointment is free!

2. Complete an interview

You’ll be asked to confirm your details, and your wishes that we discussed in your call/appointment, and then some. Once complete instructions are received, we will prepare your documents and provide advice within 2-4 weeks.

3. Review your plan

You will need to review the documents we have prepared and our advice, to make sure they align with your wishes. If any amendments need to be made before you’re ready to sign your documents, they can then be made.

4. Sign your documents

You will receive finalised versions of your documents, ready for signing. Our fees for preparing your estate plan include us meeting with you to sign the documents at our office (we’re also able to do house calls, for an additional fee of $440 including GST).

Frequently Asked Questions

Your estate is everything you have in your name. This may include real estate, bank accounts, cars, debts, shares, cryptocurrency, pets, etc. Everything in your estate can be distributed under your will.

Property owned jointly with other people (including real estate and bank accounts), may not be part of your estate, unless they are owned in a specific way. Superannuation, life insurance are not automatically part of your estate, but they can be. Any assets owned by private companies and trusts are also not part of your estate.

As part of your estate plan, we will determine what’s “in” and “out” of your estate, and plan to ensure that what’s “out” still passes in accordance with your wishes.

A will is a legal document that outlines who they want to manage your estate (executor) and how an individual wants their assets distributed after their death as their final wishes. It can also specify guardianship arrangements for minor children and other important directives. To be legally valid, a will must meet certain requirements, such as being of sound mind when drafting the will, and it must be signed in the presence of witnesses.

An executor of a will is an individual or institution, such as law firms, designated by the deceased to carry out the instructions and wishes specified in the will upon their death.

Beneficiaries are individuals, entities, or organisations designated to receive benefits or assets from various instruments such as estates, wills, trusts, insurance policies, retirement accounts, or other contractual arrangements. In the context of a will, beneficiaries are the recipients of an inheritance, which can include money, property, or other assets.

If you die without a good estate plan, your assets will be distributed under the laws of intestacy, which differ in each State, Territory and circumstance. Superannuation will pass in accordance with superannuation law, which may reflect what you want to happen.

The costs, both monetary and emotional, can be great on your family member if you die without a will, as they will require undergoing legal proceedings to sort it out.

Yes, they can. But this should be documented in your will and Power of Attorney documents. The law does not automatically grant your family members the ability to make decisions for you, and without the appropriate documents, they would have to go to a Court or tribunal to be given the power to do so.

Superannuation law provides a very short list of people eligible to receive your superannuation after your death. And then the list is even shorter for those who can receive it tax free. If you want to leave your super to a specific person or people, it needs to be formally documented, otherwise, the superfund will make that decision for you.

No. Certain people can always challenge your estate if they do not feel they have been adequately provided for. Regardless, it’s essential to have a will, especially if you’re considering “cutting someone out”, to show your intentions and to make the process of challenging as difficult as possible for that person.

A letter of wishes is a document that can accompany your will and provides guidance to your executors and trustees about how you want them to deal with your estate. It is not legally binding but can provide a lot more context to your will, and include information about why you have put together your will in a certain way, how you would like people to work together, and how you would like any young children raised.

In Australia, there is no specific inheritance tax. Assets that are received via an inheritance are generally tax-free, subject to some exemptions. These are that some tax may be applicable to superannuation death benefits that pass to certain people, capital gains tax (CGT) liabilities may pass on to your beneficiaries, or there may be taxes, duties or other government levies that apply to certain trusts. An estate can be structured to plan for any taxes that may apply.

Probate is the legal process of certifying a valid will as the last will of the deceased, and the appointment of an executor. Probate is required in most circumstances, where a deceased person died leaving assets. For some small estates, if all assets were owned jointly with another person, or there are no estate assets, probate may not be required. If you do not have a valid will, then instead of probate, someone will need to apply for letters of administration instead.

A power of attorney is a document that gives someone (the attorney) the ability to make decisions on behalf of another person (the principal). This may be because the principal is unavailable to carry out certain transactions (for example, because they are overseas), or if they have lost the mental or physical capacity to make decisions for themselves. There are different types of powers of attorney, so it is important you receive advice on the correct type for your situation.

Attorneys appointed under a power of attorney can make decisions about property and financial matters, and in the ACT about medical, personal care and medical research matters. In NSW, medical decisions are covered under a document called an Appointment of Enduring Guardian. You can, however, provide directions, or place conditions or limitations on the decisions your attorney is allowed to make.

Yes. This is called a “right of residence” or “right of occupation”. You can grant these rights in your will to anyone and can place conditions on those rights (for example, that they are required to maintain the property, pay certain expenses, etc.). You can also give expanded rights to someone, under a “life tenancy”. It is important to consider the implications of these rights on you, the intended occupant and the ultimate beneficiaries before considering including them in your will.

Not initially. If you do not have a valid will, then the state will only receive your assets if there is no one else under the intestacy rules who can benefit from your estate. So, your spouse, children, grandchildren, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and first cousins would need to have died before you before the state receives your assets (noting that list varies in each State and Territory).

You can nominate someone to receive your pets after you die in your will.

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Outside of Balance, I am an adjunct lecturer and assessor with the College of Law in the ACT. In this role, I lecture and mentor future lawyers in the ACT and surrounding regions, as they complete their Practical Legal Training (which is the course you are required to complete to be able to practice as a lawyer).

When I am not lawyering I love to travel and have already made it to 18 countries across Europe and Asia. My personal goal is to travel to every continent, including Antarctica. My favourite destination so far is Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland, where I skydived over the Swiss Alps!

My innovative approach to law has seen me, and Balance Family Law recognised with over 23 national and international awards and accolades since 2020 including the prestigious Lawyer’s Weekly Family Law Partner of the Year 2021, Australian Law Awards Sole Practitioner of the Year 2021, Australian Law Awards Boutique Law Firm of the Year 2020 and the Gold Ausmumpreneur Award for a Service Business in 2020 and 2021. I have also received consecutive Chief Minister’s Awards for Excellence for my work with families and children on the frontline during my time working in child protection. In 2022 and 2023, I was invited to be a Judge at the Lawyers Weekly 30 Under 30 Awards, and Partner of the Year Awards, and the National Ausmumpreneur Awards.

As one of Australia’s most respected family lawyers and a gamechanger in the lawyer space, I look forward to working with you to navigate this challenging time in your life.