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Estate Planning

Estate planning involves much more than just making a will. You wouldn't go on a trip without planning where you are going to go and consider as many of the key issues as you need to consider. Yet many people don't plan for what will happen with their assets when they die. It's very easy to put it off but it is something every person should do.

With many years of assisting people to properly prepare their affairs for their passing, we can guide you through the choices you need to make.

We see estate planning as a process which seeks to ensure the right people get the right assets and at the right time. We help you to review your assets and the other structures you may own or control to ensure the best possible outcome for your intended beneficiaries. We take the time to fully understand your entire situation, from family issues, guardianship of your infant children, potential capital gains tax issues and issues of control of your structures after your death, we guide you through the options available to you and ensure your wishes are not compromised by any otherwise unforeseen consequences.

In addition to preparing a will for you we can also prepare:

  • Enduring Powers of Attorney
  • Guidelines for your guardians
  • Memoranda of wishes, and
  • Business succession plans

We recommend to clients that they consider using a testamentary discretionary trust to better protect their children and also achieve a better tax outcome for their beneficiaries. We can tailor make a testamentary discretionary trust to suit your specific needs.

Some frequently asked questions:

What is a Will?

Your Will is quite simply your means of distributing your assets and otherwise dealing with your affairs upon your death. Your executor is responsible for ensuring that your wishes are carried into effect.

In your Will, you appoint an executor to distribute your assets to the beneficiaries (those you choose to receive your assets). Your choice of executor should be carefully considered as the role can by very demanding and often complex, requiring legal and financial knowledge.

Any person 18 years or older (or under 18 if married) and of sound mind can make a Will.

What will happen if I don’t make a Will?

“Intestacy” means dying without a Will. If you die without having made a Will, your assets will be distributed according to the “laws of intestacy”. These laws may:

  • force the sale of your home or your car so other beneficiaries can claim their share of your assets;
  • not provide future financial protection for your children or grandchildren;
  • leave incapacitated members of your family without adequate support;
  • give your assets to the government, if you have no relatives.

Furthermore, you will have no say in who administers your estate and who is appointed guardian of your children if they are under the age of 18.

What things should I think about regarding my Will?

Before making your Will, you should consider:

  • who to appoint as executor;
  • who to appoint as the guardian of your children if they are under 18;
  • what are your current assets and liabilities;
  • who should receive your assets;
  • how you would like to provide for your children’s future.

How long will my Will last?

Once your Will is executed it will remain effective until altered or revoked. However, your Will can not be changed informally.

Beware though that your will may be altered if you marry or divorce.

When should you change your Will?

You are free to alter your Will at any time and as often as you wish. When you make a new Will, normally your old Will is automatically revoked. If you marry, your Will is automatically revoked and totally ineffective, unless it was expressed to be made in contemplation of marriage. Divorce also has an effect on your Will where your spouse was named in the Will and we suggest that you reconsider your Will upon divorce or separation. Your divorced spouse is not entitled to any assets under your Will unless you specify otherwise.

What other significant events do I need to be aware of with my will?

Whenever a significant event occurs you should consider whether your Will still expresses your wishes. Such events may include:

  • changes to your family;
  • changes to your assets;
  • if you have children (including adopted or fostered children);
  • if you change your name or a person named in your Will changes theirs;
  • if an executor dies or becomes unwilling to act or becomes unsuitable due to age, health or other reason;
  • if a beneficiary dies;
  • if you dispose of property specifically left to a beneficiary under your Will;
  • if you enter or end a defacto relationship.

Why can't I just prepare my own will? Can't I just use a will kit from the newsagent?

You can prepare your own Will but you do so at the risk of causing emotional and costly legal battles amongst relatives.

When preparing a Will, a number of legal requirements must be followed. Failure to do so can invalidate the Will. If this occurs, than the law may consider that you have no Will and the laws of intestacy will apply unless the invalidity is rectified by a Court process which can be expensive.

If your Will is valid, but your words fail to express your wishes accurately, you Will may need to be interpreted by the Court. This will be costly and stressful.