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A few months ago, a couple contacted me to amend the Wills we had prepared for them two years earlier. They had fallen out with their son (who suffers from a mental disability) and now wanted to limit his inheritance.

Their instructions were emailed to me, with an expectation that it would be a “simple change” and they could sign the new documents the following week before they left the country. The proposed changes immediately raised a red flag for a possible Will challenge in the future.

We arranged a meeting to discuss the proposed changes and were able to gain a greater understanding of the couple’s motivations and the circumstances leading to them. When I outlined the potential issues, they were very concerned about both the financial and emotional repercussions that might result.

We took the time to fully explore the issues and find a way for the son to still receive his inheritance, but through a protective trust structure where his lifetime needs would be met, and the risks the couple were concerned about would be limited.

Given the strained relationship with their son they were also concerned about the problems this may cause for their other children, who were originally nominated as executors. Having the ability to appoint Equity Trustees as an independent executor brought comfort to them that no further relationships would be damaged through the implementation of their wishes.

I feel proud to have been in a position to have the right conversations with this couple, so that not only intended outcomes are likely to be achieved, but consideration is also given to the impact on the relationships they will one day leave behind.

- Stephanie Smith, Estate Planning Manager, Perth