How should I prepare for my first appointment with my Solicitor to discuss property settlement?

The weeks and months after a separation has occurred can be very stressful and may leave you unsure where to turn. The solicitors at Hogan Stanton Lawyers are here to help you with the crucial next steps.

Once you have decided that you want to speak to us for advice it can be difficult to know how you should prepare for that first meeting so that you get the most out of your initial appointment and we have all of the information available to advise you.

When attending an initial appointment with Hogan Stanton Lawyers the first questions we will ask you are the key dates of the relationship including the date you started living together, the date you were married (if applicable), the date you separated and crucially if you were married and are now divorced, the date the Divorce Order became effective. This is important because we will need to identify the time limit for filing an Application for Consent Orders or an Initiating Application with the Courts.

We will also need to know if there are any children of the relationship and, if so, their full names, date of birth, current age and who they live with / what arrangements have been made for both parents to spend time with the children.

We will then run through the history of the relationship requesting information which includes but is not limited to:

  1. Both parties assets at the commencement of the relationship;
  2. Both parties employment histories, including periods of unemployment and maternity or parental leave and salaries (if known);
  3. Details of any properties purchased during the relationship including how the deposit and stamp duty was paid and how the balance of the purchase price was paid;
  4. All assets including superannuation, currently owned by the parties either individually / jointly / through businesses and / or trusts. It is important to identify as many of those assets as you can and to try and estimate a value for them or obtain a Valuation;
  5. All liabilities currently owed by the parties individually / jointly / through businesses and / or trusts;
  6. Both parties’ non-financial contributions which includes your individual roles caring for the children, home maintenance and care and homemaker duties;
  7. Whether there have been any windfalls during the relationship including inheritances, redundancies, TPD payouts, personal injury compensation payouts, lotto winnings etc.;
  8. Both party’s current health, living arrangements and employment.

We will then explain to you about how the Court will determine how the asset pool should be divided taking into account the length of the relationship, financial and non-financial contributions and each parties future needs.

We will also explain how the matter can be finalised by either filing an Application for Consent Orders in the Family Court of Australia or an Initiating Application in the Family Court of Australia or Federal Circuit Court of Australia depending upon your individual circumstances and whether or not an agreement has or can be agreed.

It may be possible to provide you with an initial estimate of how the pool could be divided by the Courts, but it is likely that we will need both parties to provide their full and frank financial disclosure before confirming that advice.

Before you attend your appointment with us you should have a think about the answers to the above questions so that you can provide us with the information we will require.

It may also be helpful to write down your answers and also to print out copies of your financial statements etc. so that you have these to hand at your initial appointment. If you own property either on your own / jointly / through businesses and / or trusts you should consider how much you think the property would be valued at and what you owe in relation to each item.

If you are looking for family law advice about financial/property and / or children’s issues please give Hogan Stanton Lawyers a call to schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience.

Executor’s Commission

Acting as an Executor / Personal Representative for a Deceased Estate is frequently involved and time consuming.

A lot of people don’t know that under section 68 of the Succession Act “the Court may authorise the payment of such remuneration or commission to the personal representative for his or her services as personal representative as it thinks fit, and may attach such conditions to the payment thereof as it thinks fit.”

It is possible when preparing a Will to make an allowance for the Executor(s) to be paid commission as a percentage of the capital and income of the Estate. However, in our experience it is not common for an Executor’s commission clause to be included.

This does not mean that you as an Executor of the Estate will not be entitled to Executor’s commission, but it does mean that you either need the consent of any other Executors and the Beneficiaries or to apply to the Supreme Court for the Court to determine if you are entitled to commission and, if so, how much as a percentage of the capital and / or income of the Estate.

The potential amount which you could receive for Executor’s commission is calculated based upon your “pain and trouble”. There have been a number of cases where Executor’s have applied for Executors commission and where it has been found that they are entitled to the commission. The percentage amount has varied from as little as 1.5% on the capital of the Estate to 5% on the income of the Estate.

If an agreement can be reached about the payment of Executor’s commission this can be finalised by a Deed which all Executors and Beneficiaries sign to confirm that they agree to you receiving Executor’s commission from the Estate.

It can be beneficial to the Estate to consider and agree on a proposal for you to be paid Executor’s commission from the income and capital of the Estate because the costs of an application by the Executors to the Supreme Court are significant and are likely to be recoverable from the Estate itself.

Once the Deed has been signed or an Order made by the Supreme Court, the payment of Executor’s commission will be made first before a partial or final distribution of the Estate occurs.

If you are acting as an Executor and wish to apply for Executor’s commission, Hogan Stanton Lawyers will consider the works you have undertaken as an Executor and provide you with advice as to your potential entitlements to commission. We can prepare a letter to the Executors and Beneficiaries setting out a proposal and, if an agreement is reached, prepare a Deed for the parties to sign.

Alternatively, if no agreement can be reached, we can prepare the application to the Supreme Court for an Order that you receive Executor’s commission for your role as an Executor.

Please note the payment of or an entitlement to Executor’s commission is not the same as being reimbursed for your expenses as an Executor, which you are entitled to provided you can produce evidence of payment of those expenses.