Happy New Year to all our Tonkin Legal Group blog readers. Hopefully it will be a better one than last year.

So, with the New Year already upon us, let’s look at a few things we can do that we may have been putting off, sometimes for years!   


Do you have a Will? Don’t feel embarrassed if you don’t. The man who wrote the standard English textbook on Wills died without making one – at least nobody could find it! 

A Will is a cheap form of insurance that makes sure the people who you want to leave your assets to, get them. The person making the will (called the testator if a male, testatrix if female) gets to appoint an executor (often two), who ensure that the terms of the Will are carried out. The executors are usually family members or friends.

Please don’t buy a “newsagent’s Will kit. Although well meaning, these can, if not properly completed, lead to the estate being administered by someone appointed by a court, and the assets distributed not in accordance with the testator/testatrix’s wishes.   

What if you don’t leave a Will? Your estate passes to family members in accordance with Victorian state law, which you may not have wanted.

Going through a divorce? A Divorce Order automatically invalidates a Will, so you need to make a new one.

I’m over 80 – can I make/change my Will? You certainly can, but most law firms ask their over 80 clients to get a letter from their doctor, to say they are mentally able to make a Will. That’s because the Probate Office may query the Will if the Death Certificate mentions dementia. We recently did a new Will for a 100 year old gentleman, who is still as sharp as a tack.

And it’s a good idea to review your Will every few years, to make sure it still reflects your wishes.

Powers of Attorney

This is a document that gives your “attorney” the power to manage your affairs if you become incapable of doing so. The attorney can then “stands in your shoes” and can operate your bank and credit card accounts, even sell your house – so you need to appoint as your attorney someone you can trust absolutely. This is called an Enduring Power of Attorney. There are other forms of Powers of Attorney, including one that allows another person (usually a close family member, like a son or daughter) to giver instructions to your doctor about your medical treatment – including when to stop medication if you are terminally ill. So, again, that person needs to be someone you trust completely. As with Wills, these documents should be reviewed every so often to make sure they reflect your wishes.

Family Law

It’s difficult to make New Year’s resolutions about Family Law. If your relationship is in trouble, consider couple counselling before deciding that it’s over. The results of ending a marriage or a de facto relationship are enormous – on children and finances, so it’s worth trying to save it if that’s possible.

If the relationship is over and you are negotiating about a settlement, remember that it’s easy to prolong matters because you may want to “punish” the other party. But Family Law, and the courts, aren’t into punishment. Far better to settle as soon as possible and get on with your lives.

We hope this has been helpful. As always, the lawyers at Tonkin Legal Group are here to help you work through these issues, and the New Year might just be a good time to start.

If you feel that we can assist you in anyway, please contact our experienced team to book an appointment now!