Wills and estate lawyers in Sydney

Here’s how to avoid unnecessary will and estate disputes with the help of a specialist lawyer.

Turnbull Hill Lawyers

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Every year, an estimated 40% of Australians pass away without a will or adequate estate planning. This can cause stress and unwanted disputes for those left behind.

If you're looking for tailored help with your will, including the process of probate, then you're in the right place.

Read on to find out more about the services of wills and estate lawyers in Sydney.

How can a wills and estate lawyer help me?

A wills and estate lawyer can help you with the management of a will, including any plans you may have for the property you own. This may include:

  • Drafting a will. A wills and estate lawyer can help you draft the legal document that works out how you will distribute your assets after your death.
  • Contesting a will. If you feel the will of a deceased person isn't right, a lawyer can help you to challenge it.
  • Probate and estate management. After your death, a wills and estate lawyer will help your loved ones with the process of probate and finalise the transfer of your property in the manner you've chosen.

senior couple meeting with a wills and estate lawyer

Find wills and estate lawyers in Sydney

There are plenty of wills and estate lawyers to choose from in and around Sydney. These include as follows:

  • Owen Hodge Lawyers. An experienced law firm that's been operating in Sydney since 1951. Get in touch today and a suitable lawyer will assist you with your query.
  • Turnbull Hill Lawyers. Another experienced law firm that specialises in contesting or defending a will. Turnbull Hill Lawyers offer a no win, no fee policy. Contact the firm today and receive a response in less than 24 hours.
  • Turner Freeman Lawyers. From making a will to sorting a will dispute, Turner Freeman Lawyers offers a range of services to meet different needs.
  • Heckenberg Lawyers. Rated as one of the best estate law firms in Sydney, Heckenberg Lawyers specialise in will disputes, probate and estate planning.
  • CM Lawyers. CM Lawyers are a specialist wills and estate law firm in Sydney. They can assist you in all matters from writing and contesting a will to estate planning.

You may also want to get in touch with some online legal companies. These virtual firms, such as Lawpath or LegalVision, provide access to dozens of online lawyers and legal templates to help you craft your own agreements. Find out more about online legal services.

How to choose a wills and estate lawyer in Sydney

It's usually a good idea to contact a few different lawyers for some quotes before deciding on the one you want to work with.

Here are a few points to consider while you compare wills and estate lawyers in Sydney:

  • Research the lawyer. Do a comprehensive Google search on the lawyer. Are there any credible reviews and, if so, how satisfied have the clients been overall?
  • Approach the right lawyer. Lawyers aren't a "one size fits all" solution. Different lawyers will specialise in different areas of law. Make sure you're after a lawyer who specialises in wills and estate law.
  • Know their fee structure. Make sure the lawyer is transparent about their fees. Will they charge per hour or as a fixed fee?
  • Types of support offered. Does the lawyer offer in-person visits or are interactions mainly conducted via email and telephone?
  • Find out their experience. Has the lawyer handled a matter similar to yours? Don't be afraid to ask the lawyer about previous settlements and experiences.
  • Communication. As a client, you don't want to be kept in the dark about your case. Ask the lawyer how they prefer to communicate with their clients and how often you might expect to hear from them.

How can I challenge a will in Sydney?

If you believe there was foul play involved with a will, then there may be circumstances in which you can challenge this in a New South Wales court.

Such instances may include:

  • Undue influence. If the person who assisted the deceased with creating their will stands to gain a substantial benefit, then the will may be challenged. That person may have to prove in court that there was no intimidation, pressure or force involved during the creation of the will.
  • Fraud. If it can be proven that the will was acquired by fraud, then this can be challenged in court. Fraud of a will happens when the deceased was tricked into signing the document. This can include making false statements about the will or deliberately hiding parts of the document.
  • Forgery. A forged will or signature can be challenged in court. Forgery is when the deceased was not involved in the creation or signing of the will. Forgery can be difficult to prove and usually requires a handwriting expert to determine whether the signature is fake.
  • Lacked mental capacity. If the deceased lacked the mental capacity to write or sign their own will, then the will may be challenged in court. You must prove that the deceased suffered either from senility, from a severe medical condition that reduced their mental capacity, or that they were under the influence of drugs, alcohol or other substances that altered their mental state whilst writing or signing the will.
Name Product Free consultation Starting price Fixed fees Areas of practice
$49 / year
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$69 per month (legal advice plan billed annually at $828)
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Lawpath is a legal services platform that provides solutions for a wide array of legal needs.
$49 + GST per week
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LegalVision employs technology to help connect startups, SMEs, and corporations to lawyers.

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Frequently asked questions

What is a will and what's usually included in one?

Essentially, a will is a legal document that explains "who gets what" after your death. Therefore, it's important to include which assets will be handed to who. Other important information to include is to name someone who will be responsible for carrying out the terms of the will. Find out more about writing a will here.

Can I prepare my own will without a lawyer?

While you can prepare your will by yourself, you need to ensure it meets the legal requirements of your state. The will should be notarised by a legal professional. If you're unsure about your will then you should consider hiring a lawyer.

What exactly is probate?

Probate is the legal process of executing the will and distributing the estate of a deceased person. The executor is typically named in the will and can be a family member or a lawyer.

This person is responsible for paying any debts and filing taxes on behalf of the deceased. Moreover, they oversee the process of distributing the estate.

What happens during the probate process?

Before the estate of the deceased is distributed, the probate process must be completed. What happens during this process is briefly outlined as follows:

  1. Authenticating your will. The will must be validated by the Supreme Court.
  2. Locating assets. All assets of the deceased are located and valued.
  3. Paying debts and filing tax. Any outstanding debts from the deceased must be settled and tax must be filed from the value of the assets.
  4. Distribution of estate. Once debts have been paid, the remaining estate and other assets are distributed to those outlined in the will.

What are the probate filing fees in Sydney?

In Sydney and the rest of NSW, everything concerning wills and estates is dealt with by the Supreme Court. A filing fee is payable to the Supreme Court when an application for probate is made.

Estate valueFiling fee
Less than $100,000$0
Between $100,000 and $250,000$772
Between $250,000 and $500,000$1,048
Between $500,000 and $1 million$1,607
Between $1 million and $2 million$2,141
Between $2 million and $5 million$3,568
Over $5 million$5,948

Source: Supreme Court of New South Wales

Can I still challenge a will after probate has been granted?

Yes, it is still possible to challenge a will even after the probate has been granted. If the probate has been granted, then you have to prove why the grant must be revoked. An experienced lawyer can discuss what this process involves and help you challenge a will.

What happens to my assets if I don't have a will in place?

If there's no will upon your death, then the New South Wales Succession Act 2006 outlines the order in which relatives will inherit the assets.

This Act states that your spouse will be entitled to your estate. If there is no spouse then the estate is handed to the children.

If there are no children then it will be passed on to the parents, siblings and eventually aunts and uncles.

The Succession Act 2006 is a fallback option for the government if there is no will. However, it may not be your preferred way of distributing your estate after your death.

You may want to contact a wills and estate lawyer to draft a will, plan how your estate(s) will be managed and distribute your estate before it's too late.

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