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Where to get your will done in Canberra

17

So! You’re considering making a Will?

Great! You’ve taken the first step. Making a plan for how to look after your loved ones after you’re gone can be a daunting experience. After all, no one likes to think about their own death! It’s pretty normal to think that you’ve got plenty of time to make plans later. 

Unfortunately, a significant number of Australians never get the chance to make those plans and they die either without a Will, or with a badly drafted, home-made, or ‘Will-Kit’ Will. This can be stressful, disappointing and financially harmful for the people you leave behind. Increasingly, a poorly put-together or home-made Will will result in estate litigation which can cost your estate significant amounts of money and take years to resolve.

Think of a skilfully prepared Will and estate plan, put together by a specialist lawyer, as an insurance policy against the sort of stress and financial hardship your loved ones don’t need.

What to look for in a Wills and Estate Planning lawyer:

  • Specialisation. Don’t settle for a law firm that ‘also does Wills’. Although there are many lawyers who offer Wills, it’s important to know that wills and estate planning is a complex and specialist area of law. Your best bet is to proceed with a lawyer or law firm who focuses on and specialises in Wills and estates. They will offer the best value for money and provide a service that is tailored to your needs.
  • Qualifications and awards. A great team of estate planning lawyers may be recognised for their exceptional performance in that area of law. Look for lawyers who have been recognised for their quality work in a peer-review guide such as Doyle’s Guide, who have accredited specialisations, or who hold further educational qualifications such as a Masters degree in Wills and Estates.
  • More than just a Will? A quality estate planning lawyer knows that not all assets can be dealt with in your Will. They will consider the big picture and provide you with advice not just in relation to your estate assets (ie, those you can deal with in your Will), but also in relation to jointly-held assets, trusts, superannuation, binding death benefit nominations, life insurance, taxation issues relevant to your estate plan, risk management, and enduring powers of attorney.

Other Considerations:

  • What if my family is complex? Not all families look the same! That’s ok – a skilful estate planning lawyer will be able to provide you with advice and tailor a solution that achieves your objectives but also minimises the risk of family disharmony and costly litigation.
  • I have a business, company, or trust. Can my lawyer deal with those in my Will? If your financial situation is complex or involves external structures, it’s even more vital to deal with an estate planning expert, not just any lawyer. A highly-trained estate planning lawyer will be able to ensure that those structures and their assets pass effectively to the next generation.

Canberra’s Best Places to Get Your Will Drawn Up

The following businesses are not rated in any particular order and have been included based on our readers’ feedback. Let’s get started.

DDCS Lawyers

DDCS Lawyers are Wills, Estate and Business Succession specialists. Their team of highly skilled estate-planning lawyers is one of Canberra’s largest and includes Canberra’s only Accredited Specialist in the field of Wills and Estates, one lawyer who has achieved (and another who is completing) a Masters Degree in Wills and Estates – and each lawyer has been recognised for their expertise in Doyle’s Guide to the Legal Profession. DDCS Lawyers have the knowledge and experience to guide you confidently through the estate planning process, leaving you safe in the knowledge that your affairs are in order and your loved ones will be looked after.

Meyer Vandenberg Lawyers 

Meyer Vandenberg Lawyers deliver expert legal advice, guidance, and representation right here in Canberra. And, with a team of multi-disciplinary professionals, you can expect a hassle-free will service tailored to your specific needs.

Meyer Vandenberg always puts their clients’ best interest as the number one priority so you can be confident that your will does exactly what you want.

Baker Deane & Nutt

For over a century, Baker Deane & Nutt (BDN) Lawyers have provided top-quality legal services to Canberra, Queanbeyan, and surrounding suburbs. With a passion for justice and commitment to their customers, the team at BDN are more than capable of drawing up your will.

Whatever your unique needs – from business ownership and investment to property – their lawyers can help you create a will that benefits all parties involved.

Bradley Allen Love Lawyers 

Situated in the heart of Canberra, Bradley Allen Love (BAL) Lawyers boast a stellar reputation and impressive track record. And, when it comes to wills and estate planning, their compassionate yet professional attitude and industry-leading expertise will give you peace of mind.

The team at Bradley Allen Love always put their clients first and are committed to the highest level of integrity, honesty, and innovation.

Have You Had Your Will Drawn Up in Canberra?

Please share your experience in the comments area below.

What’s Your opinion?


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17 Responses to
Where to get your will done in Canberra
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steveu 8:21 am 13 Sep 12

jessieduck said :

Thanks everyone for the info. At 32 it’s not something I thought was necessary but we’ve learnt the hard way that as soon as you have kids and assets you really need to get a will.

You are a smart person, age is irrelevant IMHO and you have made a good point. When I get some time away from work as my will is hopelessly out of date.

Nightshade 10:20 pm 12 Sep 12

Curiously, the NSW Public Trustee charges only half as much as the ACT one, since their sliding scale goes in increments of $100,000 rather than $200,000:
Up to $100,000 – 4.4%
From $100,001 to $200,000 – 3.3%
From $200,001 to $300,000 – 2.2%
$300,000 and above – 1.1%

Apparently the charges are set by the state/territory government.

jessieduck 9:46 pm 12 Sep 12

Kurrajong said :

On the Public Trustee charges, I confirmed with them that they would charge 4% to transfer the title of a family property to our child.

That amounted to $26,0000 !!! .

Jeepers that’s a ton of moolah. On second thoughts it might be best to just go to a normal lawyer.

Thanks everyone for the info. At 32 it’s not something I thought was necessary but we’ve learnt the hard way that as soon as you have kids and assets you really need to get a will.

Kurrajong 11:45 am 12 Sep 12

On the Public Trustee charges, I confirmed with them that they would charge 4% to transfer the title of a family property to our child.

That amounted to $26,0000 !!! to do what a family executor or solicitor could do at the Land Titles office for something like a couple of hundred dollars.

It convinced me that it was better to go with a family executor who was willing to do the job and a solicitor as fallback.

Nightshade 10:29 pm 11 Sep 12

RedDogInCan said :

The Public Trustee charges a fee to write up your will and a % fee only if they are the executors of the estate, which is not mandatory. My will was written up by the Public Trustee and only nominates them as the executor of last resort – that is only if my other nominations refuse to do it.

At least the Public Trustee specifies a fixed fee up front. As the executor of two estates my experience is that wills and estates bring out the worst gouging in lawyers. The more complex it is, the more reasons they find to charge you. We even had one lawyer tell us not to worry about the legal fees as ‘it is paid from the estate’.

The Public Trustee website currently says “The Public Trustee can prepare your Will only where nominated as the Executor to administer your estate.” Is that a change since you had yours done?

I’m rather put off by the fees quoted:
• assets up to $200,000 4.40%
• next $200,000 (ie $200,000-$400,000) 3.30%
• next $200,000 (ie $400,000-$600,000) 2.20%
• greater than $600,000 1.10%

Given the price of houses these days and the amount of money needed to fund retirement, these %s would quickly add up to a lot (if you haven’t lived to spend it all). Is this really the standard rate?

RedDogInCan, as someone who’s been an executor and knows the work involved, do you think these fees are reasonable? Is it so much work that family members would rather not be asked to be the executor, and have the estate pay this much to lawyers instead? I’d really like to know.

troll-sniffer 6:03 pm 11 Sep 12

shirty_bear said :

We used Colquhoun Murphy in Braddon … no hassles, no complaints.

+1 for these guys, hassle free conveyancing for me last time.

Innovation 6:03 pm 11 Sep 12

MelonHead said :

Read the fine print if you decide to use the Public Trustee. In my case, they offered “free will” to my mother with the proviso that they be named executors. An offer too good to be true. Had the family known, we would have paid almost any solicitor any reasonable fee.

When came time to execute this will, the Public Trustee were as uncaring as you could possibly be. As well as quite rude and difficult to deal with.

They had the last laugh. Their fee was 4%. Of the GROSS VALUE OF ALL ASSETS. Not net value. Not some reasonable fee.

After the estate was finalised, the family calculated we had paid about 2.5 to 3 times the cost of any competent solicitor’s execution of a similar estate. This estimate was based on a spate of deaths in the family at the time.

These event happened more than 10 years ago, but a quick look at the Public Trustee web site seems to indicate that not much has changed.

Get reputable and competent solicitor. Pay them for their time and expertise. Enjoy the knowledge that the job is done right.

You could always take a copy, make your own and nominate your own Executor(s). Or sign the one they offer and make a new one the next day “This is my last will and testament”. But the Public Trustee has always worked well in my experience. And RedDogInCan 2 #5 these things bring out the worst in (potential) beneficiaries as well as laywers…..so lock it in as best you can but don’t put it off…..

mmillercfp 5:01 pm 11 Sep 12

Rebecca Tetlow at the newly merged Bradley Allen Love (6274 0999 or http://www.bradleyallen.com.au) and Paul Salinas at Certus Law (6268 9090 or http://www.certuslaw.com.au) have both looked after clients of mine very well and I am happy to recommend.

Both participate in regular estate planning seminars so are very current in the field.

shirty_bear 3:22 pm 11 Sep 12

We used Colquhoun Murphy in Braddon … no hassles, no complaints.

MelonHead said :

Read the fine print if you decide to use the Public Trustee. In my case, they offered “free will” to my mother with the proviso that they be named executors. An offer too good to be true. Had the family known, we would have paid almost any solicitor any reasonable fee.

When came time to execute this will, the Public Trustee were as uncaring as you could possibly be. As well as quite rude and difficult to deal with.

They had the last laugh. Their fee was 4%. Of the GROSS VALUE OF ALL ASSETS. Not net value. Not some reasonable fee.

After the estate was finalised, the family calculated we had paid about 2.5 to 3 times the cost of any competent solicitor’s execution of a similar estate. This estimate was based on a spate of deaths in the family at the time.

These event happened more than 10 years ago, but a quick look at the Public Trustee web site seems to indicate that not much has changed.

Get reputable and competent solicitor. Pay them for their time and expertise. Enjoy the knowledge that the job is done right.

the fees outlined on their website are pretty standard for an executor, if anything they are a bit lower than most.

MelonHead 1:41 pm 11 Sep 12

Read the fine print if you decide to use the Public Trustee. In my case, they offered “free will” to my mother with the proviso that they be named executors. An offer too good to be true. Had the family known, we would have paid almost any solicitor any reasonable fee.

When came time to execute this will, the Public Trustee were as uncaring as you could possibly be. As well as quite rude and difficult to deal with.

They had the last laugh. Their fee was 4%. Of the GROSS VALUE OF ALL ASSETS. Not net value. Not some reasonable fee.

After the estate was finalised, the family calculated we had paid about 2.5 to 3 times the cost of any competent solicitor’s execution of a similar estate. This estimate was based on a spate of deaths in the family at the time.

These event happened more than 10 years ago, but a quick look at the Public Trustee web site seems to indicate that not much has changed.

Get reputable and competent solicitor. Pay them for their time and expertise. Enjoy the knowledge that the job is done right.

jessieduck 1:03 pm 11 Sep 12

Thanks guys. Our own estate won’t be overly complicated, it’s just that we also need to have a lawyer witness some other documentation so I think the Public Trustees might be perfect. Just outside the scope of Will Kit territory,

Hey, here’s something you might not know. If you want to donate your body to science, you can’t unless it is in writing. It’s not the same as donating organs (ie, you’ve indicated your consent and then the family OKs it) Unfortunately we just learned this the hard way and had to go through a crappy cremation experience instead of being able to do what the deceased had wished for. Fun times.

RedDogInCan 11:35 am 11 Sep 12

mezza76 said :

Please be aware that public trustees also charge a % fee based on the nature of your will and estate when it is executed. That’s always been a turnoff for me – although the fees in itself wouldn’t be huge – I’d just rather pay upfront. More info can be found here:
http://www.publictrustee.act.gov.au/wills

The Public Trustee charges a fee to write up your will and a % fee only if they are the executors of the estate, which is not mandatory. My will was written up by the Public Trustee and only nominates them as the executor of last resort – that is only if my other nominations refuse to do it.

At least the Public Trustee specifies a fixed fee up front. As the executor of two estates my experience is that wills and estates bring out the worst gouging in lawyers. The more complex it is, the more reasons they find to charge you. We even had one lawyer tell us not to worry about the legal fees as ‘it is paid from the estate’.

dtc 11:21 am 11 Sep 12

Ross Watch at Tetlow Tigwell Watch lectured on wills and stuff at the ANU/legal workshop for years and on law society committees etc, so might be worth a go.

As Kurrajong said, dont get too complicated. Firstly, its only relevant after you are dead so don’t try to control your money too much – you don’t care by that stage. Secondly, the more complicated the more costly (both now and in the future). Drawing up a simple will will take a few hours, if you start having trusts and complicated requirements you are looking at 10hrs+ (at $400 per hour).

mezza76 11:15 am 11 Sep 12

We are going through the same process ourselves and are looking at a lawyer rather than a public trustee.

Please be aware that public trustees also charge a % fee based on the nature of your will and estate when it is executed. That’s always been a turnoff for me – although the fees in itself wouldn’t be huge – I’d just rather pay upfront. More info can be found here:
http://www.publictrustee.act.gov.au/wills

We’ll probably give Slater & Gordon Online Will a go and see how that works out given our estate will be quite simple. I think the fee is about $150.
https://online.slatergordon.com.au/sgo/

afl4act 10:13 am 11 Sep 12

Very happy with Public Trustee experience. – probably depends on how complex your needs are, but it would be worth calling them anyway.

Kurrajong 9:52 am 11 Sep 12

I have used Dibbs Barker in Canberra House for many years.

If children are involved, I would seriously look at your will creating a Testamentary Trust rather than a simple distribution of your estate. It costs more to set up but it leaves them with many advantages and protection of assets.

Don’t make the will too complex and have a good hard think about what you need before you go to the lawyer, or you will end up paying for their time to unpack it from your head.

Alternatively, look at the Public Trustee in London Circuit. Their website lists the fees which are a few hundred dollars.

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