Expectations of Estate Administration Vs Reality

When I talk to people about their expectations around estate administration I take the time to explain that managing a deceased estate is an honour, but it also has the potential to be hard (not always but sometimes). Like having a baby or getting married or deciding to retire and spend all day with your beloved – nobody wants to tell you it might be difficult beforehand or you wouldn’t sign up for it. Managing […]

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Business Succession Planning

As a business owner, farmer’s wife, and farmer’s daughter I understand how difficult it is to separate the business from the person – the years of hard work, financial investment, and emotional commitment make it particularly hard to imagine there being a day where your business and life aren’t extricably linked. Unfortunately many business owners die or become incapacitated without ever getting around to formally addressing the succession of their business. Just as most entrepreneurs […]

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End Of Life Care

It never ceases to amaze me that in our fear of talking (or even thinking) about death, we’ve created a vacuum where we’re blindsided by how emotionally and physically taxing it is to care for someone who is dying. People often tell me they don’t want to burden their family with the messy, emotional heavy lifting of death. Forgetting that even if their dying happens away from home – in a hospice, hospital, or residential […]

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Expectations of Estate Administration Vs Reality

When I talk to people about their expectations around estate administration I take the time to explain that managing a deceased estate is an honour, but it also has the potential to be hard (not always but sometimes). Like having a baby or getting married or deciding to retire and spend all day with your beloved – nobody wants to tell you it might be difficult beforehand or you wouldn’t sign up for it. Managing […]

Business Succession Planning

As a business owner, farmer’s wife, and farmer’s daughter I understand how difficult it is to separate the business from the person – the years of hard work, financial investment, and emotional commitment make it particularly hard to imagine there being a day where your business and life aren’t extricably linked. Unfortunately many business owners die or become incapacitated without ever getting around to formally addressing the succession of their business. Just as most entrepreneurs […]

End Of Life Care

It never ceases to amaze me that in our fear of talking (or even thinking) about death, we’ve created a vacuum where we’re blindsided by how emotionally and physically taxing it is to care for someone who is dying. People often tell me they don’t want to burden their family with the messy, emotional heavy lifting of death. Forgetting that even if their dying happens away from home – in a hospice, hospital, or residential […]

Estate Planning Vs Writing A Will

Your estate is the total of everything you own, including money, assets, investments, property and debts. Your will is the documentation that outlines what you want to happen to all of those things when you die. Whilst a will is an important tool, estate planning is about so much more than just making a will. Why do I need a will? A will enables you to specify how you want your assets distributed after you […]

Why would I want a Testamentary Trust?

Including a Discretionary Testamentary Trust in your will offers your beneficiaries more choice about how they receive their gift, whilst providing significant asset protection and tax advantages. Yet many people are unaware the process is as simple as setting up the ‘rules of the trust’ as part of their estate planning. How does a Testamentary Trust work? Unlike an Inter Vivos trust (a trust set up and operated in your lifetime, such as a Family […]

Will I Need To Apply For A Grant Of Probate?

A Grant of Probate is recognition from the Supreme Court that a will is valid and that the person or people named in the Grant are authorised to deal with the estate. If the deceased doesn’t have a will an application for a Grant of Letters of Administration can be applied for by a lawyer of your choice. Below we’ve listed our 10 most frequently asked questions about applying for probate. 1. What is a […]

What Does An Executor Do?

An executor is the person (or people) nominated by a willmaker responsible for managing distribution of assets and carrying out directions when someone passes away. Below is a step-by-step guide of the duties of an executor.  1. Decide if you wish to take on the role of executor Being an executor is not just an administrative role but also a deeply personal one where you will be required to make heart-led decisions on behalf of […]

Life Doesn’t Need To Be Perfect To Do Your Estate Plan

If you’re waiting until life settles down or you get all your ducks in a row before doing an estate plan. Chances are high you’ll die waiting. There’s no perfect time to write your will – except right now. Life has a way of turning out different to what we imagine. We see it all the time. We experience it all the time. And yet we’re surprised by it. All the time! If you’re waiting […]

Information For A Death Certificate

When completing the paperwork for a death certificate an innocent mistake, oversight, or incorrect information can have bigger consequences than you may think. When someone dies in South Australia, the funeral director will normally register their death with Births, Deaths and Marriages on behalf of the person’s family or friends. Deaths need to be registered within seven days of burial or cremation. And applications can take up to eight weeks to be processed. As a […]

Estate Planning For Companies

As a business owner it’s vital you adequately plan for the future of your business and that means making sure your assets and operations are looked after if you become unwell, have an accident or die. Estate planning isn’t a nice to have for business owners. It’s an essential piece of equipment in your business tool chest. Let me tell you a story that’s true. On the 2nd January 2020 the unimaginable happened to the […]

Leaving A Death Letter Isn’t Brave

Using your will to name, shame or punish people who haven’t lived up to your expectations during your lifetime is cruel, heartless, and more often than not punishes the people you’re trying to reward as much as those you’re trying to write out. Even if you write a letter explaining why. There aren’t many people who manage to slide through life without receiving at least one Dear John letter (if your name is actually John […]

Talking To Your Family About Your Estate Plan

Whether you want to start talking to your family about your estate plan or will. Or you want to encourage a conversation with your parents or adult children to get their own estate planning ducks in a row, having a round table conversation about death can be a tricky subject to navigate. Here’s our top tips for how you can make edge your way towards having the hard chats or launch right in. We’ve been […]

Understand The Roles In Your Will

It probably all made sense during your estate plan – until you get home and someone asks you about their role in your will. We’ve put together this handy glossary of estate planning roles and responsibilities so you fully understand who’s doing what if you die or become incapacitated.  When it comes to your death team its important to understand which job is going to go to which person, so you can be sure you’ve […]

Writing a Great Eulogy

Writing a great eulogy or memorial speech can feel overwhelming and full of pressure. But before you launch into a CV that covers birth to death and everything in between we got together with a professional writer to share a few tips on writing a big hearted, memorable speech or eulogy. “Stories are the most powerful way to share values, connections and the personality of your person…” There’s nothing quite like the feeling of leaving […]

How To Avoid Estate Disputes

As Your Estate Lawyer I’m passionate about helping you avoid estate disputes, avoid avoidable problems, solve unavoidable problems and ultimately help your family stay friends after you die, by playing the game “What will life REALLY look like after you die – for you WHOLE family.” Sometimes that means having hard conversations with you about who you want to reward and who you’re trying to punish in your will. And sometimes it means helping you […]

Including Gifts To Charity In Your Will

Leaving a gift to charity in your will in the form of a bequest or donation is a powerful way to make a positive difference to a cause you believe strongly in. But is it as simple as simply writing your gift in your will? And would you gift be more valuable if it was given whilst you’re still alive? “Do you want to look like a hero after you’re dead? Or be a hero […]

SA Woman Awards 2022 Ceremony

Fiona Shilton SA Woman Award Winner

Fiona Shilton has been awarded the SA Woman Emerging Business Woman award for 2022 in recognition for her work changing the conversation around death, wills, and estate planning and creating a legal practice that focuses on kindness, care, and bravery. “We can only live our lives as fully as possible even if it is based on a mistake.” When Jill Lathlean died in 1985 someone awesome added this epitaph to her grave marker. I don’t […]

Sole Trader Estate Planning

When you’re a Sole Trader it can feel impossible to separate yourself from your job. What most Sole Traders don’t realise is when it comes to the law, you and your job are entirely inseparable. When it comes to the law there is no distinction between you and your sole trader business. Being a sole trader offers tens of thousands of Australians the opportunity to build, own and grow their own business without the costs […]

Including Collectibles In Your Estate Plan

When it comes to including collectibles in your estate plan, not all collections are created equal. Whilst your vintage Kewpie dolls, hand painted tea cups, expansive tool, or antique kettle collection may be deeply sentimental, more financially valuable collectibles such as artwork, precious metals, stamps and coins can be some of the toughest assets to pass on to your beneficiaries. “I’ve never met anyone yet who isn’t deeply emotionally connected to their collections.” Over the […]

Do You Really Want A Plain English Will?

If I had a dollar for every client who has asked me to “Please just write my will in plain English Fiona,” I’d have a few extra dollars a week to run through my accounting system.   “Whilst the language your will is written in doesn’t need to be decipherable to the untrained eye, the language you as the will maker and your lawyer communicate in is of the utmost importance…” When people decide they want […]

Safe Deposit Box

What to Keep in a Safe Deposit Box (and What Not to)

Are safe deposit boxes all they’re cracked up to be?  When it comes to hiding valuables I’ve heard it all; tin cans of cash buried in the backyard, diamonds stitched into the curtain hems, illegal items not just under the mattress but in the mattress. Everyone wants to keep their treasures safe.  “End-of-life wishes and funeral arrangements are of little value if they’re hidden away in a safe deposit box no one can access” If […]

Strong Willed

Being Strong Willed In 5 Easy Steps

The world is full of people walking around feeling confident they’re winning at Adulting because they think they have a good will, when in actual fact they don’t.  Discover why being strong willed isn’t just about the piece of paper and how you can muscle up and make your will do the heavy lifting. “Good estate planning means making the business of living as easy as possible for the people you love when you’re no […]

This Is Your Life

When to Update Your Will

A fellow much wiser than me one said “Nothing is contant except change”. Our lives have a funny habit of changing. Given your will is designed to protect the people and things you love right now, it’s important to update your will so it matches your life.  Imagine for a moment I ask you to write a book about your life right now. Not a retrospective, historical account dating 20, 30, 40 years back. Not […]

Does Your Young Adult Need A Will

Estate Planning + Your Adult Children

What would your life look like if you couldn’t help your child or make decisions on their behalf when they really need you to?  Many parents are shocked to discover once their young person turns 18 they are legally no longer able to step in as a substitue decision maker if they became unwell or were in an accident, or act as the executor of their estate if they died. “A long time ago someone […]

If you love someone. Let everyone know.

Brendan died of a massive heart attack in May 2021.  He was 51 years old.  He left behind adult children, an ex-wife and his partner of 4-years Cherie. This is Cherie’s story. “Just when I didn’t think I would find true love and a forever partner Brendan walked out the door towards me and I knew he was it.” Just two weeks before he died, Brendan woke me and asked me to call an ambulance. […]

Burial Place

Deciding On Your Final Resting Place

Destination Final You’ve decided to be cremated but you figure your loved ones can decide where they’d prefer your final resting place to be.  That would be the most caring thing to do right?  Maybe not. When faced with a menu of Goodbye options families often struggle to make the decision about where to scatter or bury their loved ones cremains. Without direction, families are left guessing, arguing, disagreeing and more often than not some […]

Do It Yourself

DIY Wills Suck

Online Wills and DIY Will Kits have long been heralded as a saviour for the time-poor (or just poor in general).  But are they all they’re cracked up to be? Everything you need to know before you DIY your will. I often get asked what I think of DIY wills.  I used to be too scared to say “They suck balls” and instead would say “I don’t hate them”.  But actually, I do hate them […]

Testamentary Guardians

Appointing A Testamentary Guardian

Appointing a Testamentary Guardian in your will means you have control over who makes decisions on your behalf if you are no longer able to look after your children. Like every parent I know, my kids are my world. I was lucky enough to get five of them, in two batches. In 1998, my daughter Lily was born two weeks shy of my 21st birthday – a nine-pound four-ounce bundle of perfection. Oliver arrived two […]

Fiona Shilton Estate Lawyer Wills Adelaide

Estate Planning Is Kindness

Estate Planning built on time and kindness   This is the story of the woman who helped me become a lawyer. The woman who showed me the work I do in estate planning is a valuable and vital gift to my community. Earlier this year the death of my Nana hit me hard. She was one of the most important women in my life.  I keep a photo of her on my desk to remind me […]

Good will making

How To Write A Good Will

My estate plan is a constant work in progress. Which is what makes it good. My estate plan is a constant work in progress.  Not because I don’t have my s**t in a pile but because I don’t want to just leave a will.  I want to leave a good will. A good will plans for right now – not for some far distant, unknown future – but what life would look like if you […]

Estate Planning with kindness and compassion

The Perfect Time For Estate Planning

When it comes to estate planning, done is better than perfect. If you’re anything like me, perfectionism can stop you from getting things done.  Getting your roots touched up, folding your laundry, getting that box of stuff out of your boot and into the op shop – and of course top of most people’s list – getting your will done. For years I’d dreamed about starting my own business but perfectionism held me back. I […]

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