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Safeguarding financial interests and estate planning for kinship, permanent and adoptive families


Preparation for many situations and events is a big part of our lives, however, often seeing a lawyer and preparing a will is an expensive, time consuming and thought provoking process. Wills are often something that we leave to another day, and often that day never comes. That day did come for one carer, Naomi Colville. Naomi started by attending a webinar and soon found herself considering many aspects that she hadn't considered. Who would be the guardian for the children? What should be done to make arrangements for a child that would never be capable of being responsible for their own finances? And what type of structures accommodated both their children and allowed for protection from various other parties involved in her children's lives? What did Naomi learn about a special disability trust? The answers are out there and require time, thought and strategies to be determined, and they will need to be reviewed too over time. Listen to her story or see the website for contacts and resources to start your own journey in ensuring your wishes are clearly set out to safeguard the young people in your life.

00:00 - Start 01:40 - What made you investigate estate planning? 04:22 - What do you need to consider? Special disability trusts? 09:29 - Other considerations for permanent or kinship care or adoptive families 10:36 - Impact of turning 18 13:00 - Finding a lawyer 14:20 - Flexi funding from PCA Families is available for added costs of estate planning 16:10 - Don't leave it - what happens to your children if you died yesterday....


This is Sonia Wagner, representing PCA Families in one of our many recordings designed to capture lived experience and best practice evidence based learning that assist kinship, permanent and adoptive parents/carers in supporting young people. 

Being able to learn from peers and connect with those who may help us is particularly important. Today we are discussing Estate Planning and why it is so important when you have multiple children and families to consider.

Before we do I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet. We pay respect to Elders past and present and express our intention to move together to a place of justice and partnership.

Today I’m joined by Naomi Colville. Naomi is a Board member of PCA Families, has 2 children 8 and 11yo, and has lived experience of permanent care and NDIS and disability services.  She is also a proud granddaughter of the Pallowa Nations of North East Tasmania

00:58: Naomi, do you have anything to add about your background or passions?

01:40: Today we are discussing Estate Planning. Preparation for many situations and events is a big part of our lives, however, often seeing a lawyer and preparing a will is and expensive, time consuming and thought provoking process. Wills are often something that we leave to another day and often that day never comes. That day did come for Naomi Colville. Naomi, what were some of the matters that drove you to take that step and make arrangements for your estate and your children?

Complicated and tricky access


Wanting it to be right for both children: him (permanent care) and her (biological)

Couldn’t get what we felt was comprehensive advice locally

Resigned ourselves to the generalised advice which did not really meet our specific needs

Two kids - one permanent care and one biological

Not a lot of money - but wanting what there was to be secure 

Not able to be challenged – legal and secure

Were concerned to protect any challenge to our wills 

04:22: What were some of the important matters you learnt about and needed to consider eg disability trust or otherwise?

Learnt about the benefits of a Special Disability Trust - he is eligible as a beneficiary of a Special Disability Trust – it is a complicated and onerous process 

Had to think about the cost of it and think about both children - was it worth the spend on it given the small amount of money we have

Any structure drawn up should be safe from any challenge

We are approaching 50 and needed to action it

We listened to a webinar from an NGO that supports carers

That was eye opening 

We didn’t know th Special Disability Trust Existed

Beneficiary has to be assessed as eligible to be a beneficiary

If you aren’t already opened up you are  with this process

Open up for the disability trust – confronting process as it is a discussion about your ultimate demise

The structure we are designing will enable funds to be deposited and managed through the trust

But that then lead us to thinking about how that circumstance would be managed for our other child or his own biological family

Again - we were keen to get a structure in place which would protect his inheritance from challenge

Most convoluted thing was having a neurotypical child and a child with a disability so we had two very separate plans.

One to manage their own life and one who can never do that

One can go shopping and cut up food, one cant

09:29: Were there other things related to permanent care or similar in being a beneficiary of a will?

There isn’t a lot of lawyers that understand the complications of orders in the even of your death when associated with permanent care

Found one with a lived experience of disability and had done work with permanent care family in the past, so was willing to learn and assist with those structures

Each individual circumstance is complicated

10:36: Did you consider any changes that may take place when your children turn 18. Does that change the nature of the discussion? 

Because the Special Disability Trust will be in place it really was a matter about when that is enacted - upon our death, his age etc

Lots of factors went into that discussion - his accomodation requirements, discretionary spending and the actual financial accounting and reporting requirements. He wont be able to be responsible for himself.

Enshrining it all in a trust means the trustees will have guidelines on how he needs to be dealt with 

For the other child, not so much: at what point and at what age would structure for her. Decided she would be the beneficiary under guardianship so her structure is simple as it doesn’t have the disability trust.  

13:00: How did you select a lawyer to draw up your estate? What were the things that were important to look for in that person? 

Listened to a webinar provided by an National Government Organisation which supports carers

Took up the offer of a free assessment and realised there was much more that we needed to consider and research

There seem to be very few legal people with Permanent Care experience and then coupled with disability specific experience - we found who suited us

The bonus is she has lived experience as a carer which helped as she had a grasp of the extra considerations

Connecting with her story was really our driver, after 10 years of looking locally to find the right advice and person to assist

It needed to ensure there wouldn’t be a potential challenge from his biological family

14:20: Were PCA Families able to help you as legal expenses aren’t part of flexi funding right? 

People seem to have a misguided view that a $50 off the shelf will kit from the newsagent will sort it for you.

General, straightforward estate preparation can cost a couple of thousand dollars. 

Add in the Special Disability Trust and you are looking at thousands of dollars. 

We are a single income family and carer’s pension - we certainly did not have the funds to commit to the complexity that the Special Disability Trust requires

So yes – flexi-funding was able to pay for half our costs and we are most grateful

16:10: Do you have any other comments or considerations or anything else you wish to comment on? 

Don’t leave it - even if you feel you don’t have much to leave

Things like family break down and your other personal circumstances will drive your decision

Thankyou Naomi for your wonderful insights. I’m off to redo my will!


To anyone making the time to listen to this recording, thankyou for giving up your valuable time for the benefit of the young people in your life. If you are a permanent care or parent needing help or support please contact PCA Families at  or call us on 03 9020 1833. Please subscribe or leave a review, or share an idea for a future topic! Until next time have an amazing week.  

Website references and resources

To access the disability trust webinar attended by Naomi, please see Products – Duncan.Legal (