Monday, November 28, 2011

How do the intestacy rules work?

Following last week’s post, I have had a couple of enquiries about how the intestacy rules work.

As most readers will know, the intestacy provisions apply where a person dies without a valid will in relation to all of their assets. In this regard, it can in fact be possible to die ‘partially intestate’. This simply means that there are assets in a person’s estate that are not validly dealt with under the will in place at a person’s death.

Not dissimilar to a number of the other issues dealt with in previous posts, the intestacy rules are (at least currently) inconsistent across each state in Australia.

The intestacy rules in each state are however set out under the relevant Succession Acts and, in very broad terms, provide for the distribution of wealth amongst immediate family members according to predetermined formulas.

In very general terms, only one set of intestacy rules will apply and which rules are relevant will depend on where the deceased person was 'domiciled'.

The question of domicile can in itself a fairly complex issue and if there is a level of interest, I will try to address this in a future post.

Until next week.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Court drafted wills

Last week I had an example of a client situation which in some respects was similar to the post a few weeks ago where a sole director died without a will.

The situation that came up last week involved a client who was the sole director of a number of companies and had lost capacity.

While she had an attorney appointed via the Guardianship and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (there are separate entities in each state regulating how someone can be appointed as an attorney where the incapacitated individual has not otherwise made a valid appointment), the director here also did not have a will.

In many situations, there is now the possibility to apply to a court before someone’s death and have the court approve a will.

The process is a relatively intense one, primarily because the court system holds the making of a will as something that ultimately should only ever be made by the individual in control of the relevant assets.

This said, when compared to dying intestate, the process is often one that we strongly recommend be considered.

Until next week.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Financiers being financiers

With apologies for the lack of post last week (for reasons that I won’t bore you with), this week’s post looks at one area where financiers seem to have had a continued focus on recently. In particular, with the continuing economic uncertainty, we are seeing a number of clients being asked to comply with the financial assistance rules.

Financial assistance can be a relatively complex area of the Corporations Act, however essentially it centres around situations where a company provides some form of help to shareholders (or associates of shareholders) in relation to the provision of finance.

What amounts to ‘financial assistance’ can be an issue of some debate in many transactions, however ultimately the 'golden rule' invariably applies. That is a financier will normally have the last word as to whether they believe there is a financial assistance issue.

There is a specific process set out under the Corporations Act that allows a transaction to proceed despite the existence of financial assistance, however there are a number of strict timelines that must be satisfied in order to comply with these provisions. Therefore, unless all parties are aware of the possibility that financial assistance approval may be required, significant difficulties can arise.

Until next week.