Chapter 1: Introduction

Death is a fact of life. We will all die at some stage. People seem to fall into two camps. Those who are concerned to ensure their wishes are carried out following their death and those who say — ‘I don’t care what happens when I’m dead’. This book is for those in the former camp and seeks to explain the legal processes and the rites and rituals surrounding death. Even when legal arrangements are made, death can sometimes create complications for those left behind. Feelings of distress at the death of a friend or family member can be compounded by finding that their estate is in a shambles, or that an obscure or previously unknown relative is challenging the will. This book provides practical information to help the reader anticipate what can go wrong from the perspective of the will-maker, as well as from the point of view of beneficiaries and executors. 

It also provides an outline of what can be expected from the funeral process, including the legal requirements. There is information here on planning ahead for eventualities like impairment or incapacity in decision making and what needs to be considered before appointing an Attorney or Enduring Guardian. 

This book discusses the laws applicable in NSW, as at the date of publication. All legislation (laws) referred to are from NSW (unless otherwise indicated) and can be found on the NSW legislation website

About the authors

Rosemary Long is a lawyer who is an accredited specialist in wills and estates law. Rosemary worked with the NSW Public Trust Office (now named NSW Trustee & Guardian) for 14 years, and then practised in the areas of estate planning, wills and estates and elder law in various private law firms. Rosemary currently works as a sole practitioner on the Central Coast.

Trudy Coffey BA, Dip Soc Stud (MAASW) is a social worker who worked with the Commonwealth Repatriation Department (now Veterans Affairs) before teaching with the NSW Department of Education. She is now the Director of Social Work for South Western Sydney Local Health District and the Social Work Manager at Liverpool Hospital.

Note to readers

While every effort has been made to ensure the information in this book is as up-to-date as possible, readers are advised to seek expert advice when faced with specific problems.

This guide provides a general outline of the law and legal issues surrounding wills, estates, funerals and planning ahead, but it is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice.