The following is based on an extract from Nick Renton's
ARE FREE WILLS REALLY FREE?
Some organisations are willing to draw up wills free of cost to the testator. These organisations include:
However, it should be noted that a seemingly "free" will can become very expensive indeed for the beneficiaries if five per cent or thereabouts of the total value of a large estate has to be paid away to a trustee company, especially if relatively little work needs to be done in order to wind up the estate.
The effective cost can be even larger if the only way to pay such a commission requires the disposal of an asset such as a family farm which would otherwise have been retained intact.
Of course, there is nothing to stop a testator from varying such a free will later on (apart from the moral obligation incurred by the process).
The precise scale of charges should be ascertained before using a trustee company, particularly in the case of relatively simple estates.
There are a relatively small number of statutory trustee companies operating in Australia. These companies are usually old-established, conservative institutions, with large staffs and vast funds under management.
They advertise themselves as being very experienced in trustee and investment work and as being able to provide an ongoing service without the problems of individual executors dying or just being unavailable.
However, notwithstanding their credentials overall, in recent years several statutory trustee companies have got into serious financial trouble and have had to be wound up by the courts.
The fees charged by statutory trustee companies could involve some or all of:
or some variation of that.
Beneficiaries under estates administered by statutory trustee companies sometimes express great dissatisfaction with the arrangements.
Typically, such complaints can relate to:
Because of such problems some testators prefer to use joint executors, namely, a statutory trustee company and a relative. The former is chosen because of its permanent existence and its resources to look after the bookkeeping and taxation aspects. The latter is chosen to provide a more human touch.
Some trustee companies encourage their wealthier clients to set up charitable or philanthropic trusts. They offer facilities to assist this process and to handle the ongoing administration - but they regard this activity as a profit centre and charge fees accordingly, thus reducing the value of the gift.
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This page http://nickrenton.com/932.htm was last updated on 2005-05-25