Buddha's words

Buddha's words
My inspiration. We are what we think, All that we are arises from our thoughts, With our thoughts we make the world. Photo copyright Sean Duggan

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Buddhism and the Law

I had the privilege of attending a dinner hosted by the Buddhist Society of Western Australia on 25 November 2008.

Ajahn Brahm, the Abbott of the Bodhinyana Monastery was kind enough to speak to the guests on the issue of Buddhism and how it applies to corporate Australia.

His words and advice were most reassuring and I was pleasantly surprised how he was able to relate Buddhist principles to the corporate world.

He recited a short story from Leo Tolstoy which I believe is so applicable to all aspects of life including the practice of the law.

The story was about an emperor who sought the philosophy of life. He ended up with 3 simple questions:

1. When is the most important time?
2. Who is the most important person?
3. What is the most important thing to do?

The answer to the 1st question is NOW. NOW is the only time we have. If you wish to thank your receptionist for the good work she has done, NOW is the time. Not tomorrow or the day after.

The answer to the 2nd question is: the person standing in front of you and requesting your attention. We often do not give our full attention to the person speaking to us. I suppose if all couples practice the answer to this 2nd question, the divorce rate in the world will drop.

The answer to the final question as to what is the most important thing to do is: TO CARE. Unless we care about what we are doing and why we are doing it, then there is no reason for us to function. Likewise , unless we care about what we are doing for our clients, we will never be good lawyers.

It was a short speech filled with humour and compassion.

I hope I am able to practise what was taught by Ajahm.

Until my next blog, I wish my readers well.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What happens if you die without a will?

Dear Readers,

I never tire from talking about wills and how important it is to have an updated will.

I have been in practice for over 18 years. In those years, I have prepared thousands of wills for clients. As I get older, I realise that those clients who have had wills prepared by myself are also getting older. I recently attended a funeral for one of these old clients. It was lucky that a will had been prepared as it will save the family a lot of anguish. Have a look at this article from Perth Woman which deals with the question of what happens if no will is prepared.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Spouse Migration Tips

Dear Readers,

I would like to share with you my latest article in the PerthWoman magazine.

It deals with the issue of spouse migration and tips on how to ensure you succeed in getting your loved one into the country.

Having been a registered migration for over 18 years, I have seen my fair share of cases where the Department of Immigration (in it's various forms and name sake) have separated loved ones through their red tape.

Many genuine couples have been separated by the Department of Immigration because the couples are not familiar with how the Department officers think. I hope this article will set you thinking about the best way to get your loved one by your side.

Do feel free to email me if you have any questions.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Proud Father of 2 boys who are Tae Kwon Do black belts

Tyzton's black belt day

Yes, after years of training my 2 sons aged 10 and 12 are both holders of black belts in Tae Kwon Do.

Jazton , my 12 year old son got his black belt at the age of 10 yrs on 16 December 2006.

His younger brother Tyzton recently achieved his black belt on 28 June 2008 also at the age of 10 yrs.

All of their training and achievement can only be attributed to the patience of my mother in law, (bless her). She drove them to all the classes and sat through hrs and hrs of training before my sons graduated.

As a token of her achievement and sacrifice, my family is getting a picture frame done with all the belts obtained by the boys before reaching the color black. That frame will be dedicated to my mother in law.

Again, what has that got to do with the law?

I suppose it is harder to assess the standard and quality of a lawyer as they do not award belts to show the public the level of the lawyer's expertise.

So, how do you decide who to appoint as a lawyer when you need one. Well, have a look at the article written by myself for the PerthWoman magazine entitled a "Date with a Lawyer". That's in my previous blog. Hopefully that answers some questions.

I hope my boys read this blog so they will know how proud they made their father when they both got their TKD black belts.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Binding financial agreements or Prenups

Of late,I have had numerous requests for information on binding financial agreements. They are the equivalent of pre nuptial or post nuptial agreements. The laws allowing such agreements to be signed are quite recent and there have not been many cases on the issue.

Please find an article from Perth Woman which answers some questions.

If you need advice, see a lawyer to protect your interest and save you money.

Raymond Tan

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Article in Perth Woman Magazine

Dear Readers

What issues do you consider when you are faced with a property settlement problem in your marriage?

What is a defacto relationship?

Do I go for mediation?

These are some of the questions that were asked in my latest article in Perth Woman.

Please have a read and email me at my free email legal advice section of my webpage at www.tanandtanlawyers.com.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Holiday in Japan

Yes, I have been away from work and my blog. The family spent some time in Japan last week. It was a great holiday. Tokyo is awesome. The crowds in the street are amazing when you compare Perth WA.

I took a 6 day tour organised from Singapore. I actually met a couple of guys who were from my secondary school, Gan Eng Seng Secondary School. It was uncanny. Here's to Choy and Loo. It was great meeting up and talking about our alma mater.

I also met a couple of business prospects in Japan regarding trade mark applications.

Midori was most helpful. I also enjoyed talking to Mr Yajima and Mr Yuhara. They are the typical Japanese mid level management staff. Their outlook on Japanese life was most interesting.

Pictures of Midori, Mr Yajima and Mr Yuhara are here.

It was good discussing the different aspects of life experienced by the Japanese as compared to Australians.

What was most amazing was the food that you can taste in Japan. Each train stop usually leads to a Japanese supermarket which has several levels of food stalls which are frequented by commuters. These commuters logically do not have time to cook a meal and hence resort to takeaways. The only thing is that their takeaways are art compared to ours. Have a look at the picture and video of a typical stall.

The history and culture of the Japanese can only be rivaled by the Chinese. There are temples which are 2000 years old.

The gardens are the most impressive I have seen in my travels. I have added some pictures of the gardens as they are so beautiful.

However having said all that, it was good to return to Australia which is my home. There is nothing like the warmth of your own bed.

So until my next break, here's back to work.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Advice on Will

Advice on Wills

Have a look at my video blog re some questions regarding the preparation of wills.

A will is important at any time of your life. It ensures that your wishes regarding the distribution of your estate is carried out peacefully. It will stop family members from fighting if done properly. Have a listen and call me for an appointment if you want to know more about protecting your interest.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Article in Perth Woman Magazine

Have you ever felt apprehensive about making an appointment to see a lawyer?

You should not feel that way as the lawyer is there to protect your interest and save you money.

Please read the article in Perth Woman as it deals with the preparation that will help in saving you money when you see a lawyer for advice.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Old friends and clients going through separation

I had coffee with an old client and friend today. With a sadness in his eyes, he told me he was separating from his wife after years of marriage.

It is sad that in Australia, a high percentage of marriages end up in divorce.

This is from the Bureau of Statistics:


In 2001, 17% of couples had divorced within the first five years of marriage, while a further 26% had divorced in the following five-year period. The most common single interval between marriage and divorce was between five and six years (6%). In 2001 the median duration of marriage to divorce was 12 years, up from 10 years in 1981.

I suppose you can only say that it may be in their best interest so that they can move on with their respective lives.

I suggest going through the following checklist if you are going through a separation:

1. Discuss with your spouse, if possible, what is to happen with your children.

2. Prepare a list of assets and liabilities so that when you see your lawyer, you have all the required information.

3. Obtain as many documents as possible to evidence your assets and liabilities.

4. Instruct a lawyer immediately to prepare a will. This is crucial to cover any eventualities prior to finalising your property issues.

5. Inform your superannuation trustee your updated wishes regarding your superannuation fund.

6. Speak to a lawyer asap so that they can advise you on your legal rights.

They may be basic steps but they could make the difference between a clean settlement and a messy one.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Today, the 26 Feb 2008 I was finally beaten by one of my boys at sports.

A father brings up his child knowing one day , that child will hopefully excel the father in all the father has done. Especially in sports, the father of the child first teaches the child for eg. to swim as a baby. Then the baby grows up and suddenly one day the baby becomes a young boy. The young boy today beat his old man at swimming.

The boy who beat me today was my youngest son Tyzton. He was never easy to teach. Always argumentative and temperamental. Being 2 years younger than his older brother, he was always trying to catch up on motor and sporting skills and comparing himself to Jazton his older brother.

It was a hot day today. When I came back from the office Tyzton kept bugging me to bring him swimming.

I was too lazy as it had been a long day. However Tyzton as always was persistent, which is one trait I always loved about him although it was always a test as to who could wear whom down.

He told me he would swim 10 laps with me?

10 laps? why, in all the times he went to the pool with me, he just wanted to fool around. I have seen him swim a lap at most but it was always after great persuasion.

I decided to humour Tyzton and bring him to the pool. I told him, if he decided after 1 lap that he did not want to swim any more, I would be disappointed.

So there we were, at the Wesley School pool.

At 9 yrs of age, he is a slight figure but muscular for his age. We jumped into the cool water after the hot day.

It was refreshing. I decided to use flippers as I am not a great swimmer. I did 2 laps freestyle and was surprised to see him finishing the laps behind me. And that was without him using flippers.

So I took out my flippers and told him we would swim a lap using breast stroke. We set off and guess what, he kept up with me. I had never seen him swim that well before.

I told Tyzton we would do a lap of free style. It was a real awakening. The moment when you realise your child has grown and learned all you have taught him. The moment you realise that not only has your child learned what he has been taught, he is now doing better than his teacher and father.

He beat me fair and square. And try as I may the next 7 laps, I could not beat him.

The feeling of pride in my youngest son was just so difficult to measure.

As I said earlier, I love sports. I have taught my 2 boys badminton, golf, swimming, tennis, cycling and anything sporty.

Today, I was beaten by my youngest son at swimming. It was a proud moment for me. My son has grown up.

What has that got to do with the law? Nothing, except that perhaps one day, my sons will take over the practice and bring Tan and Tan Lawyers to even greater prominence.

To my son Tyzton, if you read this blog, you will know how proud your dad is today.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Families and wills

It's nearly the end of the weekend. I am preparing a will for a client and thought it might be a good subject for the next blog.

Families and Wills

A husband and wife came to see me last week to make a will. They
were from Asia and had 1 son and 1 daughter. They wanted to leave all their properties to their son. They were from a very traditional and old fashion family.

I tried my best to explain that in this day and age, what they were proposing sounded most unfair. I took great pain to explain to them that it was not just the issue of leaving their properties to their son. I told them they had to consider how it would affect the relationship of the son and daughter after their death.

I have seen families broken up as a result of wills that favour different children.

I have acted for a 70 year old mother who had to sue her son because her husband did not make a will and finalise his affairs before his death.

There are lots of problems that can be caused by a failure to plan.

The law also has a set formula for distributing estates where there is no will. That formula may not be how you wish your estate to be distributed.

Failure to plan is tantamount to planning to fail.

So what needs to be considered if you want to make a will.

The first point is to decide who is to be your trustee/executor.

The term is used interchangeably. The job of the trustee is to obtain a piece of document from the Supreme Court. That document is the Grant of Probate. The Grant of Probate allows the trustee to sell the properties belonging to the estate.

The trustee is then to distribute the estate according to the instructions in the will.

Whom you appoint as the trustee is a very important matter. The trustee has to be someone you trust as they control your assets. They may well sell everything and disappear to the Bahamas.

So choose a trustee that you know will not disappear with your estate.

If you have young children, it is also important to choose a guardian who will agree to look after your children until the children are adults.

After you have decided who is to manage your estate, you have to decide how you wish to distribute your estate.

Do you wish to give everything equally to your children?

When do you wish them to receive their money?

What can the trustee spend your money on while your children are still infants?

What happens if your children and spouse do not survive you. Who gets your millions?

So many questions but it is best to get help as a will is a very important document.

So till the next time, enjoy the blog.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Chinese New Year Celebrations

Gong Xi Fa Cai

That's the traditional greeting for the Chinese New Year celebrations. We are on to the 4th day of the Chinese New Year. Traditionally, the celebrations lasts for 15 days. In China, a majority of the workers return to their home villages after working away from home for the whole year. The news this year of all the China workers getting caught in bad weather conditions that have prevented them from getting transport home shows how lucky we are.

The Chinese New Year is a time for us to take stock of what we have. Lets count our family blessings and our business related blessings.

Every year, for good luck, I get lion dancers to perform at my office. Here's a picture of one of the lions this year with my boys and their friend Ethan.

The new year is a good time to consider buying a business.

For those of you who are contemplating going into business or buying a business, I have the following 10 points to consider:

1. Never sign any offers to buy any business until you have received legal advice. The lawyer should help to draft your conditions of purchase that will protect you.

2. Always ensure there is a clause to allow your accountant to check the figures. That makes sure that the business income is as represented by the seller

3. Make a list of all assets that comes with the business. If the photocopier is supposed to be included, make sure it is listed in the schedule.

4. Ensure that you have a clause to allow you to opt out if the lease terms are not favourable. There is no point in buying a business if the lease for the premises is going to expire soon.

5. Ensure that any employees that are going to continue to work with you have all their long service and other leave benefits paid out.

6. Have a clause that allows you to check the business turnover just before you purchase the business.

7. If the business is a franchise, make sure that the contract is subject to your lawyer approving the franchise terms.

8. If you are financing the purchase make sure that you update the vendors regarding the finance approval.

9. Discuss with your accountant what business structure you are going to use. This should be done before you even make any offers.

10. Ensure that you are happy with your settlement date. Will everything be ready by then?

There are many other minor details which can make your purchase a breeze. When in doubt, speak to a lawyer.

Till my next blog. See you and enjoy the rest of the Chinese New Year.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Weekend and gin rummy

Its the weekend again. My weekends are spent playing badminton and tennis. In the evening, it is usually playing gin rummy with a group of friends.

One counts one's blessing by the friends one have.

I think I have been blessed many folds as I have great friends who provide me with great company and friendship.

If you read Napoleon Hill, his suggestion is that you spend weekends meeting new people to add to your circle of friends so as to increase your business prospects.

I have been spending my weekends with the same group of friends for over 5 years. We play badminton in the day and then gin rummy at night. All the children grew up together. The friendship is tight knit and that keeps the families strong.

I believe one of the reason many spouses split up is because they do not spend quality time together as a family with good friends.

It is not easy getting a group of friends together where the husbands and wifes all share the same mutual hobbies. If the spouses share the same hobbies, the safe bet is that the children enjoy the hobbies too.

I believe one of the reasons many couples split up is because they do not have mutual friends that the husbands and wifes enjoy time with.

So what happens to those marriages? Well the strain sometimes lead to breakups.

The issue is what happens when there is a break up.

Here are 5 things that any couple should think of if the marriage fails:

1. Speak to each other to confirm there is no future in the marriage. You only see a lawyer if there is no other option. If the marriage can be salvaged, it is best to see a counsellor.
2. If the parties agree that the relationship is hopeless, then they need to consider what assets they have and how they wish to split up the assets.
3. Whatever decision is made regarding the assets, the parties should see a lawyer to finalise matters. That is because there may be substantial tax and stamp duty consequences if the matters are properly settled.
4. Agree that despite the relationship ending, the most important concern is the welfare of the children of the marriage. Too much time and money is spent fighting in courts over children because of anger. Those fights do not help the children at all.
5. Prepare a will so that during the time the family matters are being sorted out, if anything happens to either spouse, the wishes of the deceased spouse has been declared.

It is a sad fact that many of Australian marriages fail. It is sadder that lots of these couples spend too much time fighting in court. The only winners are the lawyers. It is better to negotiate a settlement as soon as possible.

However , the first step to take if you feel your marriage is rocky, is to see a counsellor, If that fails, you should see a lawyer for advice.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Being streetwise when it comes to the law

Was playing tennis with my boys after work.

Yes, this is the 4th day in a row I had to play tennis with my boys because of the school holidays.

When do I get a break?

Was just looking at my sons in the tennis court and wondering how lucky they are in their life compared to the upbringing that I had. As I said in my previous blog, I come from a family of ten kids. I am no. 9 on the scale.

Our family was not remotely well off. Dad was a taxi driver at some stage in his life. He did what he could to support us.

Mum used to be a seamstress. That's her picture on the page with my family at home.

My earliest memories of my mum are of her working as a seamstress. We used to live in state housing which were like high rise apartments. These contractors used to bring their sewing work to the apartment compound to hand over to people who wanted to do the work. They were quite selective and usually rude and overbearing as one's livelihood could depend on their generosity.

I always remember mum having to plead to be allowed to do the work for them. My mum's work did help to support the family substantially and to this day, I have always loved her for that. Visions of her putting water on her eyes to stay awake to finish the work has always endeared her to me.

She also used to frequent pawn shops to pawn her jewellery when funds were short.

The pawn shop would give her a hand written ticket in Chinese whenever she pawned her stuff.

In the 1970's a pawn ticket of say $30 Singapore could feed the family of 10 for 1 mth.

I have a collage of her pawn tickets framed and sitting with pride of place in my office so as to honour her sacrifice to the family. In fact, I will put a picture of it on the blog as I am very proud of what it symbolises.

Which brings me to the topic of this night's blog.

I believe being streetwise due to my upbringing has helped me substantially in my work as a lawyer.

I recall a case where a client claimed he paid $300,000 cash to a friend. He was suing his friend for the return of the money. I asked if he had any witness to the transaction. After a few days, this client brought in another friend who was supposed to have seen my client handing over the $300,000 to the friend he wanted to sue.

I questioned this witness at length about what he had seen.

Do you know how long it takes to count $300,000 in $100 bills? It takes a long time as I have seen it being counted before in another case.

This witness was unable to confirm how long the counting took. After substantial questioning, the witness admitted that he never saw the transaction. He admitted he was lying to me.

I supposed if I was not streetwise, I would not have caught out the witness. Better I catch the witness out then the witness going to court and be found to be lying.

Being a lawyer requires us to read alot and be able to communicate our thoughts and reasoning to judges and fellow lawyers. However, we also need to communicate our advice to our client. If we are not able to break the advice down to simple and understandable English, we will be failing in our service to our client.

Interviewing techniques are also crucial when we see clients. Being streetwise, I believe helps a lawyer to understand what to ask and how to make sure the client is telling the truth.

Good night for now.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Negotiation skills

Part of the skills required of a lawyer is the art of negotiation.

I still remember my time as a street kid living in Singapore. Coming from a family of 10, Lawrence ( my other brother who was a year older than me) and I used to play in the streets of Tiong Bahru in Singapore. Mum did not have much time for supervision and we were left to our own devices as long as we got back by dinnertime.

Tiong Bahru is a suburb in Singapore which is quite notorious as being the playground of gangsters.

Lawrence and I used to hang around a store that had bulk bananas delivered from Malaysia. We would help the labourers unload the branches of bananas. As payment, we would get the left over bananas to bring home.

Lawrence and I used to set up stall in the Tiong Bahru markets as hawkers to sell the bananas for spare cash. It was not a lot of money , but it did teach me the art of negotiation. Selling bananas without a proper stall is of course called "hawking" which was technically an offence.

The authorities had "Environmental officers" who were there to make sure there were no hawkers in the market. It was like playing cat and mouse. Every time, there was an officer, all the hawkers would make a run for it. Great fun when we were kids. But not something I recommend as it is not strictly legal. We were minors, and reckless. I knew nothing of the law then.

So what is the art of negotiation. I suppose the main lesson is that "If you do not ask , you will never receive".

Negotiating is like playing poker. You do not know what the other side is ready to accept.

It is of course easiest if you are unemotional. They say emotion is an irrational master.

My ten rules for negotiating:

1. Be unemotional. If you are going to be emotional, get someone else to negotiate for you.
2. Always know your bottom line before hand.
3. Try to find out as much as possible what weaknesses the other party has. Do they have to sell? Are they time poor?
4. Do your research first regarding the value of anything you are negotiating on.
5. Do not be afraid to walk away from the deal.
6. Know who the main actor is. There is no point in negotiating with someone who is not making the decisions.
7. Be creative with the way the deal will work. Think of all permutations that can work for all parties. In fact, write down all the permutations first before negotiating.
8. Avoid negotiating where there is stress on time or anger issues.
9. Ask questions of the other party as by asking questions, you get to know what the other party want. If you can give it to them, the deal can be closed.
10. The most important part: Never be embarrassed to make the final "ask". If you ask if they will settle on your final position, the worse that can happen is that the other party says no. But if you do not ask, you do not know.

Negotiating is something that we have to do all our lives. We negotiate with our spouses, our kids, our bosses or workers.

Everything is negotiable.

So, the more we learn the art of negotiation, the better we become. Good luck.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Australian Day Weekend and Australian Open Tennis

What a great Australia Day. The weather was perfect.

Did not manage to see the fireworks but enjoyed the day anyway.

Kids have gone crazy about tennis and have been forcing me up early so they can play.

Their holidays are nearly over and I must say I am glad. It's not easy entertaining kids nowadays.

I can feel my body cracking under the stress of keeping up with their sporting activities.

Have not spent any time thinking or working on the law during the last few days as I decided to really enjoy the long weekend.

Come Tuesday, I will need to buckle down on the office systems that I have been trying to finalise.

Running and managing a practice compared to just working as a lawyer are 2 totally different experience.

I enjoy the practice of law, in that we are able to help our clients. However, I enjoy more, the fruits of my hard work in running a legal practice.

At the end of the day, it is people management as far as staffing is concerned and the management of client's expectation.

Better enjoy the rest of my long week end. Promise to say abit of some of the interesting cases I have dealt with when I return.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Introduction to blogging

Hi, To all potential readers, this is my first night as a blogger.

I hope my thoughts are of some value to anyone who may be interested in the law.

For those who are even remotely interested in who I am, they can check out www.tanandtanlawyers.com

I have been a lawyer for over 20 years and I believe I may have something to share with any one interested in the law.

I hail from Singapore and have lived in Perth for over 20 years. I have 2 boys aged 9 and 11.

My wife is from Malaysia.

She runs my settlement division of the law firm and has been a rock in all my business dealings.

My 2 boys fight constantly and as any frustrated parent, I spend time punishing both but without showing favoritism to either. One is a black belt tae kwon do and the other about to become a black belt too in 3 mths. So I know I have to tread carefully:)

I have operated my website with a free email legal advice service for over 8 yrs. That is my way of giving back to the community.

If you have any legal questions, feel free to email me and I will try and respond with my thoughts.

My idea for the blog is to include interesting cases that I may be working on without breaching confidentiality.

It may hopefully show what an average lawyer's life is like to anyone interested in the law.

I also hope to de-mystify the law for any one who reads my blog.

So until my next thoughts are put on the web, good night.