January 17, 2019
Doyle's Guide

Alison Butler, Will Dispute Law

Doyles Guide

Many lawyers are jack-of-all-trades. I am not. Don’t ask me to represent you in a divorce or a DUI charge. Do call me if you want straight answers regarding contested estates.

I first learned about will disputes in the late 90s, as a 20-something law student working in my father’s legal practice. Since graduating from University in 2002 I have worked in five different law firms. In each position I focused solely on will dispute claims.

Estate law is in my family. My father is a well-known wills and estates specialist and my uncle and sister have also worked in the area. Family gatherings are often reduced to the lawyers boring the non-lawyers with talk of estate law.

The interesting thing about contesting wills is no two cases are alike. Everyone has a unique story. I've come to appreciate the importance of taking the time to fully comprehend each client's story and obtain the bigger picture - a crucial element to crafting a convincing claim.

When I tell people what I do for a living they often screw up their nose and say it sounds nasty. It can be. But mostly it’s just unfair. People in our society have the freedom to leave their assets to whomever they choose. That doesn’t mean they choose wisely. I see many wills that are both morally and legally irresponsible. Convincing a court what a 'wise and just testator' would and should have done in the circumstances, and getting a good result for my clients in the process, is extremely satisfying work.

Other than accumulating 12 years practice in estate disputes I have a Masters Degree in International Law. I worked in human rights, undertaking internships with the United Nations in New York and Mexico City. I later worked with a non-profit women’s rights organisation associated with the International Criminal Court in The Hague. All of this work was about helping people.

When my life brought me back to Australia I found a different way to help people, a way that is supported by my background, education and abilities. Now my aims are twofold: to continue to expand my knowledge about estate law and help my clients to obtain the best result in an efficient and cost-effective manner.