Personal Law

Giving our personal touch to your personal matters

Whether you are dealing with a separation or divorce, need help with wills and estates, or perhaps just need some advice around property and conveyancing, Whitelaw McDonald have the expertise and experience to help you with your personal matters. Our friendly and passionate team will listen and guide you to help you get the outcomes you are seeking. We have specialist knowledge in the below areas: 

  • conveyancing and property law
  • contested wills
  • criminal law
  • deceased estate, probate and administration
  • estate planning and asset protection
  • family law
  • matters relating to Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardian
  • wills.

Call us today on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation.

Conveyancing and Property Law

Conveyancing and Property Law

Buying and selling residential property is exciting but can also be nerve wracking. It is a big financial decision and it is important you understand the process and make the right choices. Our conveyancing team aims to make the process as simple as possible, and keep you fully informed and your interests protected as you progress towards the property settlement. 

We will liaise with your real estate agent and finance provider to make sure the process goes smoothly. We can also arrange pest and building reports, survey and strata reports on your behalf if you need, leveraging our established relationships with these report providers to make sure you are getting the best price possible. 

As well as residential conveyancing, we can help you with:

  • buying and selling commercial property
  • buying and selling businesses
  • acting for both landlord and tenant in leasing matters
  • strata property, Torrens Title and Community Title developments.

Whatever you need help with, with our comprehensive knowledge of all areas of property law we will make sure your assets are looked after and protected. Call us today on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation.

Wills – Creating

Wills – Creating

It is really important to create a valid will, even if you feel you will be around for a while to come, so that your wishes are upheld in the event of your death.

It is also important it is created properly and is valid, as wills can be contested in court. If you die without leaving a valid will, it will be deemed ‘intestate’, that is, the estate will be divided up according to a predetermined distribution to beneficiaries as per legislation. This may not be as you would have liked, especially as some of this legislation can be outdated. 

Rather than using a will kit, which are generally rigid in structure to accommodate only basic dispositions, it is best to get more specialised advice to make sure your will is as water-tight as it can be. In law, certain words have specific meanings – incorrect use can cause problems in carrying out your intentions. Having a professionally drafted will won’t necessarily stop any successful challenges to your will, but it will make sure you have considered all of the important issues and gives the best chance of your wishes being followed.

The approach to making your will depends on many circumstances, including:

  • special provisions for education and maintenance for children under age
  • other dependants or possible beneficiaries
  • if you have a blended family situation
  • divisions of your estate which are to benefit one or more persons to the disadvantage or exclusion of another or others
  • a dependant who may have a disability
  • a spendthrift or bankrupt beneficiary
  • your superannuation situation
  • the spread of your assets and any liabilities
  • assets you have in co-ownership with another person
  • business interests such as companies, trusts, partnerships, joint ventures
  • tax issues, including CGT
  • how far you may want to go to protect assets for the benefit of beneficiaries.

If you have business interests, we usually want to discuss your circumstances with your accountant and financial advisor, after you have let us know what your intentions are.

Whatever your circumstances, Whitelaw McDonald will help you to create your valid will and protect the interests of you and your loved ones in the way you would like. Call us today on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation.

Wills – Contesting

Wills – Contesting

When we create a will, we are outlining who we would like our assets to go to in the event of our death. While these are our wishes, many people believe that this means their assets will be distributed exactly as they have outlined and to whoever they wish – but this is not always the case.

In some situations, family members of the deceased or other eligible people are entitled to make a claim against an estate, even when there is a will. They may also dispute a will if provisions in the will are inadequate. Sometimes the court will make orders to distribute assets to those people who contested.

In New South Wales, a will or estate can be challenged or contested circumstances including: 

  • family provisions claims – family members or eligible persons are entitled to make a claim against an estate in situations where the provisions of the will, or the statutory provisions when a person dies without a will (dies intestate) are inadequate or the person has been left out of the will
  • testamentary capacity – beneficiaries can challenge or dispute a will when the person who made the will was not in a sound state of mind when the will was prepared
  • undue influence or fraud – a beneficiary can challenge or dispute a will they can prove the person who made the will was unduly influenced by one or more of the other beneficiaries of the will, or if the will was a product of Fraud. This means the will can be challenged if the person who made it was coerced or tricked into signing it. 

Whether you are creating a will, or would like advice around a will you would like to contest, get in touch with our specialist team today and we will take care of you. Call (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us or an obligation-free consultation.

Criminal Law

Criminal Law

It can be daunting to face criminal charges, and it is important to choose the right legal representation. At Whitelaw McDonald we have over 35 years of criminal law expertise, and our team will be on your side to support you through the situation you have found yourself in. We put you in the best place to make informed decisions, and have the specialist knowledge to protect your rights, create defence strategies, and guide you through what can be a complex system. 

We can help you with following matters of criminal law:

  • assaults
  • violence (including domestic violence offences)
  • drug offences
  • firearm or dangerous weapon offences
  • murder or manslaughter
  • perjury
  • robbery
  • theft
  • fraud offences
  • sexual offences.

Whatever the matter, we know everyone is entitled to the very best defence possible, and we will be your ally through the journey, with the expertise to support you and help you make informed decisions for the best outcome possible. Call us today on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation.

Estate Planning and Asset Protection

Estate Planning and Asset Protection

Thinking about where our assets should go when we are no longer around may be uncomfortable, but it is important to secure and protect your assets to make sure your family is taken care of in the event of your incapacity or death. Having a well thought out will protects your wishes and your loved ones and can make the process of managing your estate a lot easier when the time comes. 

If you die without a will then your assets will be distributed according to the law, and it may not be as you would have liked or benefiting who you wished it to.

Objectives to estate planning include: 

  • communicating your wishes regarding your assets for now and upon your death
  • protecting your family
  • reducing your taxes
  • protecting your business.

Estate planning can be complex and is ongoing, as your life situation changes continuously, along with legislation. Your estate includes land, buildings, personal property, business interests, bank accounts, cars and household items. It is a good idea if you can, to have a financial planner, accountant and lawyer who help you manage this estate during your lifetime and then help implement your wishes when you are no longer around. 

The expert team at Whitelaw McDonald will help you estate plan and put a will in place, with expertise and compassion, so that your wishes are clear and recorded and your family and loved ones are taken care of. Call us today on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation.

Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardian

Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardian

Life can throw all manner of things at us. Through either accident or illness we may become temporarily or permanently unable to make decisions for ourselves. While uncomfortable to think about, you may suffer a stroke, mental illness, or brain damage as a result of an accident, leaving you unable to make decisions for yourself. You will need to have someone to legally make decisions for you so your affairs – bills, superannuation, investments, property – can be managed. 

An Enduring Power of Attorney allows you to give a person or persons of your choice the authority to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapable of conducting your affairs. This ability can also come into place if you are unable to tend to your affairs if, for example, you suffer a physical disability limiting your mobility or simply because you are overseas or out of town. By granting an Enduring Power of Attorney, a representative can conduct your affairs on your behalf according to your wishes.

What does it cover?
An Enduring Power of Attorney generally covers financial and legal matters, including the power to sell property. Even though you appoint an Enduring Power of Attorney to cover these matters you have the power to put conditions or restrictions on what decisions can be made on your behalf.

An Enduring Power of Attorney is important as it can cover crucial decisions which need to be made on financial or legal matters when you are not able or interested to make those decisions yourself.

Who should you appoint as an Enduring Attorney?
In short – someone you trust. The person or persons you appoint is or are making decisions for you while you may be unable or not interested to do so, therefore it needs to be someone you trust. It can, but does not have to be, a professional such as a lawyer or accountant. A relative or friend can fulfil this role, and can be a logical choice when considering who would best know your interests.

You can appoint one or more people, and you can appoint different people for different things. If appointing more than one person, you can appoint them as Joint (have to sign off on things together) or Joint and Several (they can do things independently of each other). 

Who you appoint must:

  • be at least 18 years old
  • be of sound mind, that is, they must also have the capacity to make decisions
  • agree to be your Attorney.

You generally have the ability to nominate whether you want the Enduring Power of Attorney to come into effect immediately or only when, or if, you are incapable of making decisions. It can also be revoked if you choose. 

Medical and personal matters – Living Wills or Enduring Guardianship 

Generally, if decisions about medical matters are not allowed to be made under an Enduring Power of Attorney then they can usually be made under a Living Will or an Enduring Guardianship.

Living Wills (also known as Advance Health Directives, Medical Directives or Declarations) allow you to set out in advance decisions about future treatment that you will, or will not, accept if you lack the capacity at the time to consent to it.

An Enduring Guardian can be nominated by you in advance or appointed by the court or a tribunal if you lack legal capacity to make decisions. Enduring Guardians, like Enduring Attorneys, can be subject to restrictions on the power that you grant to them. Enduring Guardians can also be given the power to make decisions about other personal matters such as your long-term living arrangements, and can also cover decisions about medical treatment and decisions about dental, medical or surgical procedures, appropriate long term-care or whether and when a life support machine is switched off.

There are formal legal requirements which must be met for  these documents and important to make the best decision for you and your family, so get in touch with Whitelaw McDonald today so we can help you relax knowing you will be in good hands should anything happen. Call on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation.

Family Law and De Facto Relationships

Family Law and De Facto Relationships

Sometimes despite the best intentions, things may not quite work out in our family life as we had hoped. At Whitelaw McDonald, our sympathetic and knowledgeable team will get you across all the legal implications of whatever family law situation you are facing so that you can come to a satisfactory and smooth resolution.

We will provide you with accurate and prompt information about advice about your obligations and entitlements to help you come to an agreement, without the need for unnecessary litigation. 

Our team has expertise in:

  • financial agreements (pre-nuptial or cohabitation agreements)
  • divorce and separation
  • custody of children
  • recovery orders
  • restraining orders
  • property and financial settlements
  • grandparents’ rights
  • mediation and dispute resolution
  • will and estate planning
  • family trusts
  • adoption/surrogacy

We always deal with you with compassion and discretion, to guide you through what can be an emotional and confusing time. Reach out to us regarding your family law matters today, on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation.