When choosing the best estate lawyers in Sydney you need to consider what your specific requirements are.
People who are seeking to challenge a will have very different requirements from someone who is applying for a grant of probate on a deceased estate.
Estate law is a highly complex area and you will receive the best result when you find a specialised legal team to guide you through all the elements of estate planning.
Before engaging any legal firm you should have done all your due diligence about what they offer, what they charge, and what other clients have said about them.
This article will walk you through 5 tips for choosing the best estate lawyers in Sydney.
Sensible and proactive estate planning forms a significant part of an overall wealth management plan over the course of your lifetime.
- Clearly identify your legal needs and what type of estate planning firm is best suited for you.
- Comprehensively research estate planning law firms in Sydney and shortlist the best candidates for your needs.
- Narrow your list further by interviewing each firm with a prepared set of questions.
- Verify each firm’s performance by reading recent client reviews on Google.
- Understand precisely what your legal costs will be with each firm.
1. Identify Your Legal Needs
Estate planning lawyers can help you with:
- Drafting a Will and Estate Planning (as well as tax implications).
- Deceased Estates and setting up family trusts.
- Intergenerational wealth transfer (leaving your property to your children).
- Managing and mediating family disputes over an estate – and challenging the Will.
- How Probate works and what it will cost.
- Estate administration under a grant of probate.
- Guardianship provisions for family members with disabilities.
- Self-managed superannuation funds.
- Estate planning over multiple jurisdictions (in Australia and overseas).
This list gives you an idea of just how complex this area of law can be and when choosing the best estate lawyers in Sydney for your case, you need to verify the specific skillset of the law firm you choose.
Some firms might have an excellent track record with general estate planning but they may be weaker in litigating a disputed estate.
Match your requirements with the law firm that can best meet your needs.
2. Check out What Legal Professional Bodies and the Courts are Saying
Starting with the Law Society of New South Wales, you will find some free information and FAQs about the fundamentals of estate planning which can help you decide on the best course of action and help you to narrow your search.
The New South Wales Bar Association has material to get you started if you need to take the matter to court or need to find a good barrister.
However, any firm you engage should have a list of suitable legal counsel to represent you in court and they will advise you of the barrister’s court fees well in advance of any hearing.
They also regularly publish articles on reforms around managing your self-managed superannuation funds into retirement.
3. Shortlist and comprehensively research estate lawyers in Sydney
Start with a simple Google search and read all the client reviews of each law firm.
You need to approach this task with an open mind conduct critical research.
Know that there will always be some disgruntled clients giving bad reviews despite the best efforts of the law firm.
Read between the lines of each customer review and focus on the most recent ones.
If you already use financial advisors to manage your investments or taxes, consider asking them to help you in choosing the best estate lawyers in Sydney.
Many retirement and investment advisers will have a list of reputable law firms on their books who may be a good fit for you based on the type of estate and the size and dollar value of the inheritance.
4. Interview All Shortlisted Candidates
Most good estate planning lawyers will give you an obligation-free quote for a 15-minute legal consultation and this can be done over the phone or in their offices.
Face-to-face is obviously better as it gives you a sense of the firm’s expertise, corporate culture, and style of work.
This is your chance to interview your shortlisted candidates, starting with the following questions:
- How long has your firm been practicing estate law in New South Wales?
- How much do you charge per hour and request a copy of their draft costs agreement?
- Who will be my point of contact in the firm – will it be the senior lawyer, a paralegal, or a secretary?
- How often will you update me on my case?
- What areas of estate planning does your firm have the best track record in? (If you are considering a protracted and lengthy process of litigation to challenge an estate, you need to know how successful that firm has been in large, contested estates).
A paralegal will bill more than a secretary.
You should obtain a copy of each shortlisted firm’s costs agreement which will break these hourly rates down for you.
When choosing the best estate lawyers in Sydney, it is perfectly okay to trust your instincts about which candidate is the best fit.
5. Choose 3 Best Candidates and List Pros and Cons for each Firm
If you are simply drafting a will for a modest estate and there are no underlying complications, it is perfectly acceptable to find a law firm who can help you draft a will, basic power of attorney or set up a family trust.
If you need a lawyer who can work comfortably across multiple jurisdictions (Australia and say the United Kingdom), or if the estate includes land, shares or investments which are located offshore, you need to find a lawyer who focuses on international estate planning.
If your estate is complex with lots of variables you need to find a lawyer who specialises in the sub-set area relevant to your case.
Pros and cons to consider for your list could include:
- The firm’s expertise and skill in each area of law.
- Their costs and fee structures.
- The types of support and communication offered whether you attend meetings in their offices or only via email and phone.
- Having an established track record of success (recent client reviews are useful here).
- Their willingness to communicate to you over the course of your matter.
- Your feeling of confidence about your point of contact at the firm.
At the completion of this process, you should feel confident in your decision to proceed with the best estate lawyers in Sydney for your particular requirements.
When choosing the best estate planning lawyers in Sydney to fit your particular case you need to find lawyers who demonstrate a clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve and where you can see that they are following best practices in serving you, the client.
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Finding and choosing the best estate lawyers in Sydney can feel like a daunting task.