It can be an uncomfortable reality, but organising funeral arrangements, creating a will, or investing in an estate plan is an important part of life. This is a sponsored post.
IT can be an uncomfortable reality, but organising funeral arrangements, creating a will, or investing in an estate plan is an important part of life.
Pre-planning can give you and your loved ones peace of mind and in this special feature “CityNews” showcases compassionate professionals who can help arrange the details and minimise the burden to help make these difficult decisions easier.
Lawyers take discomfort out of wills
WHILE death can be hard to think about, Capon & Hubert Lawyers & Mediators help take the discomfort out of making a will, says wills and estate planning lawyer Ashilpa Khanna.
When death occurs, a common misconception, according to Ashilpa, is the spouse takes control of the estate and its assets, which is not generally the case.
“If you don’t make a will, the state’s law effectively does it for you,” says Ashilpa, who urges people to create a will to secure a plan for the future.
“For families, a relative dying without a will causes significant strife, since a will names the legal guardians of the person’s children.
“The last thing you want to have if you die is a fight over who’s going to raise your children.”
But to better cushion any sudden tragedies, Ashilpa firmly believes everyone should have an estate plan and it all starts with a will.
At Capon & Hubert Lawyers & Mediators, Ashilpa says great care is taken into providing expert and honest advice, ensuring each client is aware of the legal process and disclosing any upfront fees.
“Our staff are experienced in their fields and we take pride in knowing our clients,” she says.
“We will always use common sense, respect, courtesy and good judgement when dealing with clients.”
A beautiful setting for memorials and ceremonies
WITH more than eight hectares of memorial gardens, which are maintained by a dedicated team of ground staff, Norwood Park Crematorium and Memorial Gardens provides a beautiful setting for memorials and ceremonies, and a tranquil space to visit the resting place of loved ones.
The grounds are open from sunrise to sunset, every day of the year.
Having a memorial can provide a place to reflect and remember a loved one, to visit in grief or on special occasions, says a spokesperson for the Crematorium.
Norwood Park Crematorium and Memorial Gardens offers a range of memorial options, from wall niches and rose gardens, to native gardens and family estates.
Reservations can also be made for a future memorial, as part of estate planning. Families can book an appointment with memorial staff to have a tour of the grounds and choose a spot to reserve.
At Norwood Park, cremations and funeral services are available for all denominations and civil services.
The newly renovated and extended chapel now has space to seat 250 patrons, although current covid restrictions allow seating for up to 100. There’s also a catering room, and space for outdoor gatherings, with an outdoor chapel in a garden setting that has stunning views to Mount Majura, seating for up to 150 guests and additional standing room.
As many families choose to include music and photos in their loved ones’ services, the chapel is equipped with speakers and large screens. Live-streaming is also available for those unable to attend.
James helps navigate will disputes
WHEN it comes to wills and estate planning it’s best to get on the front foot and be prepared, says special counsel in estate litigation at Maliganis Edwards Johnson, James Madden.
However, he says sometimes people pass without leaving a will, or if they have left one, it can be invalid or poorly prepared. Other times, even when a will is valid, someone may feel they haven’t been adequately provided for.
“A lot of people don’t know what to do or where to start when a loved one dies and a solicitor can guide them through that,” he says.
“It can be emotional work, and if there are disputes, a solicitor is able to ‘step back’ and look at all the individual points of view.”
James says he can help people navigate problems when they feel that a will is “not fair”.
“Often there are oversights, particularly in an extended or blended family,” he says.
“It’s certainly not always a vindictive thing but it can cause distress – they’re dealing with the loss of a loved one while coming to terms with the fact that they haven’t been looked after as they may have been expecting.”
James has been a solicitor for more than 15 years, and in estate litigation for the past 10 years.
“It’s a complex area, with our ageing population and people who have more to leave than ever before,” he says.
“I like talking to people and helping them feel prepared, or if necessary, untangle any problems that can arise.”
Maliganis Edwards Johnson, 60 Marcus Clarke Street, Civic. Call 6257 2999 or visit mej.com.au
Estate planning should cover more than ‘plan A’
MANY people arrange their funeral but have neither a will nor an enduring power of attorney in place, says KJB Law’s estate planning special counsel Kerstin Glomb.
“Should you also wish to take charge and nominate a person or persons who you trust to look after your financial, personal care, health care and medical research matters, should you no longer have decision-making capacity and who should look after your minor children and should receive your wealth upon your death. It is important to have a proper estate plan in place,” Kerstin says.
“When addressing estate planning, you should cover as many possible situations and include not just a plan A, but also a plan B and if possible, a plan C.”
Kerstin says that a proper estate plan should address all aspects of a person’s wealth, including superannuation, jointly owned assets and assets held in a company or family trust.
“Depending on your wealth structure and estate planning wishes, it may therefore not be sufficient to just make a will because some of your wealth may not automatically form part of your estate,” she says.
With vast experience in helping clients with, for example, parental loans, self-managed super funds and estate planning in all ‘shapes and sizes’, involving blended families, Kerstin is also able to give advice in German succession law.
Kerstin says KJB Law, and its principals, Andrew Freer, Des Moore and Jo Twible, help people with a range of other legal affairs, including grant of probate, family law, property law, and review of retirement village contracts.
KJB Law, Ground Floor, 10 Corinna Street, Woden. Call 6281 0999 or visit kjblaw.com.au
Bill and Christine’s caring, personal approach
BILL and Christine Cole, the principals of William Cole Funerals, say they approach arranging funerals with compassion and have organised more than 17,000 services in their 30 years in their Belconnen-based funeral home.
An independent and family operated funeral home, run by former high-school sweethearts Bill and Christine and their team, which includes daughter Judy and her husband Naithan, son David and more recently, two of their granddaughters, Bill says they offer a caring, personal service.
“People tell us that they feel comforted and that arranging a funeral was less difficult than they had thought it would be,” he says.
“We want them to know that the service they experience exceeds their expectations.”
For Bill, becoming a funeral director was a “calling”, whilst Christine says she found her passion by helping people in their time of grief, using her talents to provide an organised, calm approach to planning a funeral with the families she met.
As one of only two remaining locally-owned funeral homes in Canberra, Bill says they offer personalised, empathetic and understanding service and choice for families, including all different styles of funerals and farewells for civil services and all faiths.
Tanya’s considerations for being an executor
BEING the executor of a will comes with a great deal of responsibility, says partner and head of the Wills and Estates team at Meyer Vandenberg Law, Tanya Herbertson.
“Getting specialised legal advice upfront is essential in order to administer the estate legally and to protect yourself from any personal liability,” she says.
“Whilst legal costs are usually paid from the estate, it’s important to keep any estate cash or assets entirely separate to your own, and to make sure that all estate liabilities and expenses are paid before distributing the estate to the beneficiaries.
“And keep all insurance current, such as building, contents or house insurance,” she says.
“Otherwise, if the house burns down for example, you will be held liable.”
Tanya also warns that you must never tamper with the will.
“Never write on the original will or change it in any way. Even removing staples or any binding from the will is seen as tampering,” she says.
Timing is another consideration she says. “Be aware of relevant time limits, such as the limitation period for claims to be made against the estate, and the timeframe during which you can sell the deceased’s principal place of residence without losing the capital gains tax (CGT) exemption.”
And lastly, Tanya emphasises the importance of transparency.
“Keep full and proper records for everything that’s done in relation to the will and ensure that beneficiaries are kept informed throughout the entire process.”