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  • Always consult with your client’s accountant about estate investments.
  • Remember there are significant CGT and duty concessions in administering estates.
  • Never delay the resolution of estate issues.

You acted for Barry and Betty when they applied for probate of the will of their late mother, Bertha. Barry is an investment banker and Betty a barrister – both with young children and both very busy.

The will appointed Barry and Betty as executors and left everything to them equally. The estate comprised a commercial investment property with two strata units and a listed share portfolio. Betty had helped Bertha manage her investments, so the records were immaculate.

Preparing the documents was therefore very straightforward. When Barry and Betty came to your office to sign the documents, you asked if they were fine with having the property and shares simply transferred to them equally. They said they weren’t sure but would speak to their accountant, Beatrice, and let you know. So, they said, just leave it in both names till we get back to you.

You commented that this should be okay, so long as you both end up with equal values, and off they went. You put the shares and real estate into their joint names, taking care to make sure they were tenants in common of the real estate to avoid problems if one of them should die before the issues were resolved.

Nothing happened until later in the following year when Beatrice (your clients’ accountant) contacted you to arrange a meeting to discuss …

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