Melbourne law firm Aitken Partners is urging all Victorians to consider the safe custody of legal documents, particular those living in bushfire risk zones. One of the firm’s Wills & Estates accredited specialists, Kathy Wilson, says there were many lessons from the devastation of the bushfires nine months ago, and one of those was the importance of storing legal documents.
“We gave many victims of the bushfires assistance to try and rebuild their legal documents after the fires because they stored all their legal papers, including Wills and Property Titles, in their houses,” Kathy explained. “The State Government was terrific in assisting these people to cut through a lot of the red tape where possible, but in pretty much every instance it should not have happened at all.
“Dealing with lawyers to try and sort out an estate or other issues was probably the last thing any of our clients wanted to do at that time. The process is time consuming and frustrating for people who are suffering trauma on many different levels.
“In terms of Wills, the clients with the most issues were those that had homemade Wills because there was no copy of any documentation left, including any independent evidence that the Will was prepared validly. In the case of an estate, this could have tied the beneficiaries up in legal battles when all they wanted to do was start rebuilding their lives and homes.
“In the case of mass devastation such as with the bushfires last year, organisations such as governments, insurers and banks try to make solutions easier, but some simple steps could have avoided needless hassle.
“Law firms like Aitken Partners store these documents for clients in special Safe Custody rooms.”
She also said the bushfires in February 2009 also served as a reminder to people to make sure they regularly review their Wills and Powers of Attorney to make sure they continue to reflect their wishes.
Aitken Partners is a Premium Level law firm with eight partners and accredited specialists in Wills & Estates, Taxation, Property Law, Litigation and Family Law.
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