While it is inevitable that some clients will not know where to start, usually due to the death of a close family member and possibly a state of shock with the realisation that the Will may not be what was expected or poor behaviour by family members, most clients have the capacity to think through those things which are important to understand from the first meeting. In particular, those clients who take the time to think about what they want to achieve from their first meeting, find the process more beneficial.
If you work through the following points in preparation for your meeting, you will get the most out of your legal appointment.
Gather information about the estate
Do you have a copy of the Will? Or Death Certificate. Can you note down the assets or liabilities (even best guesses) that are in the estate. Can you note down as much information as you can about the other beneficiaries – a family tree is so very helpful, dates of birth and contact details are a bonus.
If you have any relevant documents, bank statements, letters, you should gather those and bring them along.
Come with an open mind
You will likely come across friends and family who have had to deal with similar legal matters to you, particularly in personal law matters such as estate claims. While it is important to be supported by friends and family through any dispute that you might be facing, remember that your matter is different from anyone else’s. Your family and circumstances surrounding your family are unique to you. There is no one-size-fits-all advice.
It may also be the case that your friends and family, as well-meaning as they might be, do not have all the information or legal knowledge to give you proper advice about your matter. It is not the case that you shouldn’t listen to your friends and accept their support – simply be aware that unless they are lawyers, practising in estate litigation, the advice they give you might not be right for you.
Look after yourself
Above all, look after yourself. Dealing with the death of a loved one can be one of the most stressful times you’ll experience in your life – especially where there is a dispute about the Will. There is no detriment to you to seeking professional assistance, such as from a counsellor or psychologist, to help you through this. You might seek assistance to help cope with the loss you are feeling, or to express in a safe space the anger you may be feeling about the process or perceived injustice.
Take the time to write down what you are hoping to achieve and any questions you have
While the outcome in your matter will likely be determined by applying the law relevant to your circumstances, it is still very important to consider your goals – the outcomes that you want to achieve in resolving your matter. These may change after you have received advice about outcomes, but setting goals prior to your first legal appointment will give you a clear direction to know where you are heading.
Think about the main questions you want to ask the lawyer. It is likely that you will have lots of questions and worries swirling around in your mind. Writing them down can help focus you on the important issues. A list of questions will also help your lawyer give you advice about those things which are concerning you, along with other advice you might need.
Our Estate Dispute Checklist
We have prepared a specific checklist to help you prepare for your appointment with your estate litigation lawyer. This checklist will set out the important information for you to pull together if you need to make a claim on an estate or dispute the Will. Taking the time to go through this checklist will be helpful to both you and your lawyer and allow us to provide you with proper advice straight away.