Conversation You Have to Have

DEATH is not an easy subject to broach with your family, but prominent North Queensland litigation lawyer Even Sarinas said sitting down and having the tough talk makes all the difference after you’re gone. Mr Sarinas said he was increasingly encountering cases where wills were being contested after they weren’t updated, or because the parents failed to sit down with the children and explain their wishes and decisions.

“People think, ‘I’ve dealt with it in my will so I can rest in peace’, but for those left behind, the war has just started,” he said. “Problems can arise particularly when children aren’t dealt with evenly under a will and the affected child may want to contest. “These disputes can turn very ugly as the dirty laundry of the family is aired for all to see.” He said these issues could have a significant impact on the North West, where graziers and agribusiness could be jeopardised.

TOUGH TALK: North Queensland lawyer Evan Sarinas said more families in the North West needed to discuss how they want their affairs to be handled after they pass away

“There are hundreds of pastoralist and agribusinesses in the North West and these things do impact on those interests,” he said. “Properties have been in these families for generations, from father to father, and maintain the family tradition of graziers. “It’s not like in the city where a family would only own their house – those things are bought and sold regularly.” Mr Sarinas said some of the biggest cases he had worked on could have been avoided if the family had sat down and had a discussion with their family years ago. “Graziers and farmers are honest salt of the earth people and they are frank and up front with everyone they deal with in business,” he said.

“I think that same attitude and strength of character can be carried through to their other family members. “They just need to sit around a table one day and say, “look, this is how I want my interests or business done after I die.” Mr Sarinas said it didn’t matter whether you were discussing plans for the Gina Rinehart empire or just squabbling over who would get dad’s favorite wristwatch, taking the time to write down your wishes might save your family some grief long after you’ve passed on. “At the end of the day, families need to seek advice, have an open and frank discussion, and review the documents from time-to time as things change in their lives,”he said.

“You can never guarantee that litigation won’t happen, but being open about your will is definitely a measure you can take to limit it.”

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