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Practice Spotlight: Wills and Estates

Practice Spotlight: Wills and Estates

By Rachel Croucher

Wills Young Lawyers 

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This month the Young Lawyers’ blog is focusing on the practice area of wills and estates. This practice group often involves will drafting and administration of deceased estates. The types of law practiced on a day-to-day basis range from trusts and succession law to property and taxation. Additionally, mediation and litigation skills are also highly sought after in this area.

In Practice with Jasmine Berger, accredited specialist in wills and estates at State Trustees Victoria.

State Trustees has been Victoria's public trustee since 1940 and since then has administered over 31,000 deceased estates – more than any other organisation in Victoria – and written over 220,000 wills, as well as over 67,000 powers of attorney.

How did you come into this role?

After completing my studies and early legal training in South Africa, I undertook a conversion course in Australia before entering into private practice for several years. I decided to make the transition out of private practice after being asked to run an estate in-house litigation team at State Trustees. I saw this as a unique opportunity to represent the most vulnerable members of our community and make a difference in peoples’ lives.

What does a standard day in your role look like?

Every day is quite different. I could be attending court or a VCAT hearing, or negotiating between multiple parties at mediation. There are times I spend all day completing paperwork but on other days I attend management meetings. I appreciate the variety of settings in which I operate.

Do you have any advice for any law students or young lawyers wanting to get into this area?

To succeed in this area, you must have a genuine interest in people and their stories. As practitioners need to operate with acute foresight in emotionally charged situations, often with vulnerable clients, it truly helps to be invested in their unique journeys and the complex family trajectories that brought them there.

Tip of the month

Always be polite and courteous, despite the challenging behaviours you may encounter from both colleagues and clients. You are only one element in a complex matrix of grief at one of the most critical junctures in a client’s life, so try to remember to be kind.

Rachel Croucher is a professional genealogist and JD student at RMIT University. She is a member of the LIV YL Editorial Committee.

 


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