13 June 2018

The will to do well: Mastering wills skills with Frances Fredriksen

Published on 13 June 2018

Writing a will is one of the most important acts in a person’s life. As a lawyer, helping clients to understand the implications of making bequests or assigning powers of attorney is an essential part of writing wills well. The College of Law is launching a series of practitioner-focused Wills Skills Workshops in Queensland and Western Australia throughout June to September. 

The Wills Skills Workshops do more than provide legal updates, as many other CPD options do – they focus on training legal practitioners in the practical skills they need to excel. Insights spoke to Frances Fredriksen - Director of Fredriksen Legal, accredited Succession Law specialist and facilitator of the Queensland Wills Skills Workshops - about what lawyers can expect from the workshops.  

“Lawyers can drill into the specifics of practice. For example, how do you ensure you identify the right client, take instructions effectively, or observe and properly respond to issues of capacity?” said Frances. 

Workshops will be delivered via short lectures, immediately followed by interactive case studies to reinforce each lecture.  At this point, attendees will be encouraged to participate in group discussion and ask questions.  

Upskill in wills to foster confidence, competence and autonomy

“The workshops are a particularly good investment for practitioners who work in this area and have junior lawyers, paralegals and trainee lawyers likely to benefit from short but intensive training,” said Frances. “This could bring their skill level up to a level that will allow them to work with a higher level of confidence, competence and autonomy.”

Frances was attracted to facilitating the Wills Skills Workshops because she has previously found an interactive format significantly accelerates learning. 
“It is often through that interaction with other lawyers that my views and knowledge are challenged, creating an opportunity for growth not only for the attendees but also for me. 

“I enjoy sharing the knowledge I have gained over the course of my career with others, in the same way that my mentors have generously shared (and continue to share) knowledge with me over the course of my career,” said Frances.

Since admission, Frances has spent her career in all areas of succession law, both in boutique and large firms, which has given her an appreciation for the challenges firms in this area of practice face.

“Having knowledge of how all areas of succession law work in practice influences, I think for the better, the way in which I undertake the estate planning process with my clients.”

Real problems, with real practical solutions

“Lawyers, paralegals and trainee lawyers attending the workshop should expect to gain confidence and practical tools that will assist in face to face contact with clients in this area, as well as the skills to develop and maintain a will instruction checklist that will guide their practice in this area,” said Frances.  

The workshops are intensely practical.

“For example, one exercise within the workshop centres on how to manage a situation where an elderly client is brought to your office by one of their children for the purpose of making a new will. The exercise will canvass issues of: 

  1. Who is my client? 
  2. How do I identify and respond to issues of capacity and undue influence? 
  3. What are my professional duties, and
  4. How do I protect my client’s interests?”

Wills: Not as simple as you think

This area of law is often perceived as a ‘simple’ area of law.

“The reality is that a truly proficient estate planning lawyer possesses a high level of knowledge in trusts, tax, superannuation, property and commercial law,” said Frances. “Good estate planning lawyers will also have the ability to identify where advice should be obtained from the client’s accountant or financial adviser to achieve the best outcome for the client and their family.  In my view the best way to address this issue is to continually invest in the improvement of skills and knowledge.”

What Frances finds most fulfilling about this area of law is the challenge, complexity and emotion.

“For me, it’s satisfying to interact with real people and assist them to resolve and plan for matters that have an enormous impact on their life and the lives of their loved ones,” said Frances. “It is also an area that is constantly challenging, involving the mastery of complex legal matters as well as the emotional intelligence to navigate a client through a very personal process specific to them and their family.”

The College of Law will be holding the Wills Skills Workshops in two locations: 

Queenslandstarting 25 June, the first two workshops are currently open for registration. The following five workshop topics can be found here. If you would like to register your interest for the additional five, please email colqadmin@collaw.edu.au

Western Australiastarting 29 June through 28 September. These workshops will be held on the final Friday of each month. All workshops are currently open for registration. The Western Australian workshops will be led by Amanda Liston, Director, Amanda Liston Legal and Graduate, The College of Law LLM (Applied Law) majoring in Wills and Estates

Save 20% when you register for two or more Wills Skills Workshops in the one transaction!