Elder Law and Succession Planning

2016/17 Annual Report

The Elder Law and Succession Planning Committee’s particular areas of interest are:

  • power of attorney reform, including interstate mutual recognition;
  • legislative progress in succession law;
  • probate practice; and
  • the Family Provision Act 1972 (WA).

The Committee liaises with the Law Council of Australia National Elder Law and Succession Committee of which the Convenor is the national Chair, and with the Supreme Court of Western Australia Probate Committee on which a Committee member (currently the Convenor) represents the Law Society.

In the past year, the Law Society has made submissions to the Supreme Court Probate Committee in relation to the following:

  • querying the correct procedure for when a defendant in a family provision claim seeks to become a plaintiff; and
  • requesting the reinstatement of the probate elodgment search facility due to its capacity to track applications and whether the Grant of Probate has been made.

The Committee drafted a policy position paper advocating for amendments to the Administration Act 1903 (WA) to increase the statutory legacy for widowed spouses whose partners die intestate. The paper was used by the Law Society for advocacy on legal issues being faced by Western Australian community in the lead up to the State election in March 2017. The Hon John Quigley MLA, Attorney General of Western Australia, invited the Convenor to attend on him to discuss the matters raised in that submission and he is now proceeding to progress the intestacy bill which had been submitted to the former Attorney General.

The Committee contributed to the Law Council of Australia’s submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Elder Abuse Inquiry discussion paper. The Law Society’s submission was noted by the Law Council of Australia in its submission.

The Committee continues to be consulted by the Law Society’s Costs Committee with regard to the Legal Costs Committee review of the Legal Practitioners (Non-Contentious Probate Costs) Determinations when reviews are conducted.

The Committee is conducting the following reviews:

  • a review of the Report of the Statutory Review of the Guardianship and Administration Act 1990, Department of the Attorney General, with a view on making further submissions on the recommendations in the Report. At the Convenor’s meeting with the Attorney General, the question of amending the Guardianship and Administration Act 1990 to include specific provisions relating to ademption was raised and the Attorney General has advised that he will be putting that position forward to his Succession Law Working Group for review; and
  • a review to extend Statutory Wills to minors.

The Committee also consulted with the Law Society’s Education Committee for CPD seminars on Estate Planning masterclass, Will drafting masterclass and Urgent wills and assessing a client’s mental capacity.

For more information about this committee please email General Manager, Advocacy – Mary Woodford, advocacy@lawsocietywa.asn.au