With the ever changing social dynamics around us, it is becoming more apparent in the average Australian family space that people are contesting Wills.
So what does this mean for you?
As you are aware, people are able to decide who will inherit their estate by writing a Will. Unfortunately, people make decisions in respect to their Will that fail to take into consideration their spouse, de facto partner, child or someone who is dependent on them. Nevertheless, the law provides protection to people who have been left out or receive an unfair or disproportionate provision from a deceased estate.
If this sounds like you, you are able to contest a Will and bring a family provision claim against the deceased’s estate in order to receive an adequate provision from the estate.
To bring a family provision claim, you must be an eligible person e.g spouse, de-facto, child or a dependent of the deceased. A grandchild is not an eligible person unless they were a dependent of the deceased.
You also have only 12 months to make a claim from the date of the deceased person’s death, so it is critical to obtain legal advice as soon as possible.
Contesting a will: what the court considers
Should you be an eligible person, the Court will then consider the following matters;
1. Your relationship with the deceased;
2. Your financial resources and needs together with the financial resources and
needs of other beneficiaries;
3. The size of the estate;
4. Any contributions made by you to the deceased during their lifetime;
5. Any gifts received by you from the deceased during their lifetime;
6. The financial circumstances of your partner (if you have one);
7. Your dependency on the deceased
8. Your age and health;
9. Your character and conduct towards the deceased;
10, Any other matter the Court considers relevant.
If you believe that you are an eligible person and have been left out of a Will or have not received an adequate provision, you may be able to contest the will and obtain more than you think.
Equally, if you are an Executor and you are required to defend a family provision claim, we can assess your claim and provide you with expert advice with an aim to settle your matter swiftly in order to minimise the costs incurred by the estate.
Our team has extensive experience in estate litigation and whether you believe you are eligible to make a claim or require advice in defending an estate, we can assist you.
If such is the case or if you require further information in relation to the above, please contact Ian Agamalis or James Hatzopoulos at Rostron Carlyle Lawyers on (02) 9307 8900 or by email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You have finally decided to turn your idea into action. After a long time of thinking, planning and organising you have decided to stop procrastinating and immerse yourself in your idea by bringing a new business to life. Whilst you have been thinking about every aspect of your new and exciting business, you may have inadvertently forgotten about (or maybe you did not even think about) the legalities of your startup. Without the proper legal protections in place, you may not only lose your advantage, but someone may actually pinch your idea and beat you to the punch. In fact, without the proper legal documents, you may find yourself in a position whereby you are spending most of your time fighting a legal battle instead of working on and perfecting your new startup venture.
So, what are some of the main things you should think about when starting a new business?
Protecting your idea
No doubt, when you are looking at creating a startup, much of your advantage depends on the novelty and uniqueness of your idea. If you think you have the next great idea in your locker, you ought to make sure that you protect this idea. This means not only being selective with whom you share your idea, but making sure that they in turn are also selective with whom they share your idea.
This is where a Confidentiality Deed or a Non-Disclosure Agreement becomes important. This agreement essentially prevents a disclosee (the party you intend to disclose information to) from sharing your idea with anyone and simply limits their disclosure to what is necessary to aid you in the service you are engaging them in.
Before actually embarking on establishing your new startup, you should carefully consider your business structure. Will you operate as a sole trader (and save costs) or will you choose to run your business as a company (and limit your liability)? Perhaps a partnership or a joint venture is a good middle ground.
“Your business structure should be carefully determined, and this will largely depend on how or if responsibilities are to be shared and who will be in control. If you are working on the startup with someone, you will need to carefully discuss your business structure and make sure your interests are protected.”
If you are creating a startup with the assistance of partner, it becomes extremely important to document how your relationship will be managed. An agreement between all partners (whether this is shareholders agreement or other agreement to document the start of the relationship) is highly recommended. This prevents any issues down the road and dictates how the business will be run (i.e who calls the shots, procedure for buying each other out in case things go pear shaped, first rights of refusal etc).
If your startup relies on Intellectual Property, this should be protected prior to official launch. If you have not patented/copyrighted your Intellectual Property as of yet, you should be very careful as to who you discuss your idea with.
If you already own intellectual property which you intend to utilise in your new startup, you should carefully think about what is to happen to such property. Is it the case that the intellectual property will become part of the business structure that you have decided on above (i.e. will it belong to the company) or will you continue to own the intellectual property and merely licence this to the business structure? This should be clearly and unequivocally documented in your agreement with the other partners.
You may engage different entities whilst your startup is kicking off. You may be liaising with a lot of different people who will be providing you a variety of services. In addition to making sure that your idea is protected and that such parties execute the right confidentiality agreements, you will need to clearly set out how your relationship with such parties will be governed.
For example, if you are engaging someone (or a company) to design and develop a website for you, you may need a contractor agreement which clearly sets out the work to be performed and how this party will be paid for their services.
If you are engaging staff, appropriate employment agreements will need to be put in place. You should consider clearly setting out that some people ought not to be considered to be partners in your new startup but that they are simply providing a service. This limits the potential for an ex-employee/contractor claiming that they co-founded your startup (a familiar scenario in successful startups).
Without the above documents, you may find yourself in a situation where work has not been performed (or has been performed below standard) and you may not have a clear leg to stand on in your attempts to force the other party to finish their work or to redo their work to an acceptable standard.
Whilst the above may seem costly and time consuming (or you may not consider it worthwhile to think about it at this time), rest assured that having the appropriate legal documents in place is a lot less expensive and time consuming than dealing with issues if/when issues do inevitably arise.
Just like you wouldn’t start a business without a business plan, we strongly recommend you don’t jump into a startup without thinking about the appropriate legal protections. Having the above-mentioned documents in place prior to launching (or even discussing) your idea, may be the difference between you being the next Steve Jobs or the next John Doe.
At Rostron Carlyle Rojas Lawyers, we can assist with all legal aspects of your startup. We work with multiple startup clients in ensuring that they have the right legal foundations before kicking their idea off the ground.
Contact James Hatzopoulos or Klevis Kllogjri on 02 9307 8900 for a confidential discussion regarding your new business idea and to check that you have all the relevant legal documents in place to ensure your new startup does not fail before it kicks off and to ensure that you avoid/minimise the potential for any disputes.
In recent years, there has been a significant upward trend in the demand for service station businesses and fuel re-selling operations across New South Wales. This demand by investors has, amongst a host of reasons, been driven by attractive yields and long-term lease covenants.
However, those looking to invest in service station and fuel re-selling operations in New South Wales must not overlook the complex legal considerations involved in this niche and intricate area.
In addition to the usual considerations involved in the purchase of any business, there exist a number of matters which must be taken into account when investing in service stations or fuel re-selling businesses, including:
Environmental Site Assessment and Tank / Line Testing
Whilst landowners and lessors of service station sites are generally responsible for site contamination, lessees are usually required to remediate any contamination beyond that which existed at the commencement of a lease.
Given that there are significant costs associated which the remediation of contamination, an Environmental Site Assessment (‘ESA’) Report should be obtained prior to any acquisition to ascertain the extent of contamination (if any) in the soil and groundwater of a service station freehold. An ESA Report will not only provide a baseline for any future remediation but will also ensure investors are not forced to remediate contamination they have not themselves caused.
Whilst an ESA Report will indicate the extent of any contamination, it will not pinpoint a cause. As such, the integrity of the fuel tanks, pumps and lines at or under a service station site should also be investigated prior to any acquisition, either with a vendor directly or by obtaining an independent tank and line test.
Potential for development within proximity of the Business
Traffic flow, visibility and site accessibility are key components of the profitability of a service station business. Accordingly, investors should make enquiries with local council and particularly Roads and Maritime Services to ascertain whether there are any road or development proposals in the vicinity of a site which may affect these components and profitability as a result.
Notwithstanding that such enquiries may not reveal any proposals for development, careful consideration must be given to the terms and provisions of leases to protect investors against future developments and ensure adequate rent abatement rights are available.
Those looking to acquire a service station business or fuel re-selling operation should ensure the terms and provisions of any lease are carefully reviewed by a legal professional with a solid understanding of service station leases. A matter of particular significance for such businesses are the maintenance and repair responsibilities for above and below ground equipment and property, as this will include fuel tanks, pumps and lines and accordingly carry a heavy financial burden in terms of ongoing maintenance, upkeep and even replacement.
Some of the key operational considerations for service station and fuel re-selling operations include:
Branding / Supply / Fuel Re-Selling Agreements
In order to assist with competition, brand exposure, and know-how, many service station operators elect to enter into contractual arrangements with larger and notable independent and nationally branded oil companies as part of their business operations. Having the benefit of this brand exposure is intended to assist the operator with marketing of their business generally. However, as part of these contractual arrangements, careful consideration must be given to the terms and conditions of such branding / supply / fuel re-selling agreements, as often operators will be imposed with various key performance indicators, restraints in terms of trade as well as for supply of stock, as well as potentially royalty style payments dependent upon the oil company contracted with.
Licences and permits
In many cases, service station and fuel re-selling businesses do not operate in isolation, and it is not uncommon for a restaurant or café to run in conjunction with a fuel re-selling operation. As such, investors should make enquiries as to what, if any, licenses affect a business premises which is the subject of a proposed acquisition that will require transfer or assignment, such liquor, food, cigarette and dangerous goods licences.
Rostron Carlyle Rojas Lawyers are experts in service station and fuel re-selling transactions, including fuel re-selling franchise and commission agency arrangements. For further information or assistance in this regard, please contact Commercial and Property Partner James Hatzopoulos on (02) 9307 8900 or by email at email@example.com.