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    Our experienced property law and conveyancing team handle all aspects of conveyancing, real estate development and other property matters. Read More
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Our Law Firm

The foundations of Shiff & Company were laid over 30 years ago when Geoffrey Shiff established his legal practice in Melbourne. This practice evolved to the current boutique firm which embodies a particular style of practice with a loyal and growing client and referrer base.

In 2007 the long established Richmond firm of Paul Godfree & Co merged with Shiff & Company.

Many of our clients are business owners, investors and entrepeneurs and we aim to deliver most if not all of the legal services required by these clients in their business and private activities.

Our Style of Practice

We believe in a style of legal practice in which:

  • all our lawyers are trained and experienced in a number of areas of the firm’s practice 
  • we are able to combine skilled commercial and business law advice with delivery of private client legal services
  • the outcomes expected by our clients are our primary focus
  • we are always mindful of the cost of our legal services to our clients

Our Commitment

We are committed to:

  • providing quality legal services and ensuring the highest standards of service delivery and outcomes in the work performed by us
  • maintaining a close professional relationship with our clients and communicating regularly during our engagement to ensure that our clients’ personal and commercial objectives are met
  • delivering the best possible results for you in the areas of law in which we practice

The initial half hour client conference on a new matter is always free.

© Shiff & Company | All Rights Reserved | Legal Notices | Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation

Estate Administration - A Family Matter

Administering even a fairly simple Estate may involve the Executor interacting with the Supreme Court, banks, VicRoads, Land Registry, Births, Deaths & Marriages, the Administration and Probate Act, Trust Accounts, Estate Agents, cleaners, valuers, perhaps a nursing home or retirement village, maybe a share broker or registry, accountants, the ATO, and likely a Superannuation Trustee (or two, or three).

And if it’s complex, or disputed, an Executor might throw in ASIC, the Government Gazette, barristers, mediators, Directions Hearings, Consent Orders, actuaries, Trust Deeds or Terms of Settlement, to name a few.

Not to mention the beneficiaries.

The burden of all of this is commonly borne by someone who is (a) grieving; and/or (b) completely without experience in Estate administration, or legal matters full stop.

Some recent experience and candid client feedback has been invaluable as a reminder of just how complex and difficult a task it can be to administer an Estate, and how the last thing we want to do as a Estate lawyers is add to the burden instead of relieve it. We never want to be another item on the list of unpleasant things an Executor has to ‘deal’ with.

In recent months we’ve been assisting a client who is the Executor of two family Estates. The client also happens to be the relative of a staff member.

One approaches such a task with a particular trepidation: a family member is going to notice, and tell you, if you don’t make something clear, or make it more difficult than it needs to be. You may have the benefit of more knowledge of the background to the matters and the family dynamics, but you will also see the stress first-hand. You need to get everything right and make it as simple as possible otherwise you will hear, and be embarrassed, about it forever. And in this instance, it was even more acute as the client was unsatisfied with the service they had received from another firm on Estate matters.

What came out of this particular experience, however, was both gratifying and invaluable. Foremost, it reinforced the necessity of always keeping in mind that an Executor is almost inevitably experiencing a period of high stress when dealing with an Estate, and that even someone who has years of experience as a lawyer or accountant or business person may never have dealt with Estate matters and the particular quirks involved in this area of the law.

Gratifyingly, it showed that the service our firm provides as a matter of course in Probate and Estate Administration does exactly what it is designed to do: make sure the Executor knows their rights and obligations, and make the Executor’s life easier.

We ensure, first, that an Executor or Administrator knows their rights and obligations, and what the consequences of certain decisions - such as distributing an Estate before six months has passed from the Grant of Probate – may be. We try to do so in a way that’s easy to understand, personal and not bogged down in legal jargon.

From there, we do everything from handling the entire calling in, investment and ultimate distribution of the Estate, to simply providing as many certified copies of Grants of Probate and Death Certificates as various banks and bureaucracies may require for Executors who are otherwise willing and able to undertake the administration themselves. And anything in between.

It may be that some Executors don’t need or want assistance beyond the initial Grant of Probate and advice about distribution, or they may need help in every aspect of the administration. Frequently they simply need someone else to spend hours on hold with a particular institution bouncing around between departments so that being an Executor doesn’t become a full-time job. We’re happy for that to be our job, not the Executor’s.

Regardless of an Executor’s needs, our approach is always to ensure that we’re relieving, rather than adding to, the burden.

Or, if you will, we approach every Estate client like they’re a member of our family.


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Pro bono Activities

Participation in pro bono activities is an integral part of the lives of our lawyers and other team members.

As part of our practice we enthusiastically undertake legal work for a wide range of not for profit organisations including schools and kindergartens, museums and arts organisations at no cost.

Out of the office our team members work at legal aid centres and participate in diverse community organisations.

Some of our lawyers have leadership roles in arts and cultural organisations.

Alex Farrar is the Chairperson of the National Young Writers' Festival which is held in Newcastle in late September each year. The festival creates opportunities for experienced and inexperienced young writers and provides mentorship. Alex has a longstanding interest in writing and media and enjoys fostering new writing talent through her role on the festival board.

www.youngwritersfestival.org

Julia Adams is on the Management Committees of the Sticky Institute and Westside Circus. The Sticky Institute is an artist run initiative that fuses an exhibition space with online zine initiatives.

www.stickyinstitute.com

Westside Circus is a community arts organisation providing circus, performance and physical theatre opportunities for young people.

www.westsidecircus.org.au

After many years of involvement on the boards of arts, cultural and educational organisations, Geoffrey Shiff is now focussing on his role as a Charter Member and committee member of the Melbourne branch of TiE which is an organisation which fosters entrepreneurship globally. In that role Geoffrey mentors entrepreneurs and participates in regular forums and networking meetings to exchange ideas about building new exciting businesses.

www.melbourne.tie.org


If your community organisation requires pro legal assistance please call or email Geoffrey Shiff and we'll see if we can assist.

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