The idea of estate planning is often sensitive and daunting, which causes a lot of people to put it off for as long as possible. Unfortunately, the reality is that anything could happen to us at any point in time and this could create unnecessary financial mess when there is no proper estate planning or Will in place for the deceased.
Estate planning could be fairly complex particularly if you have a business, a self-managed superannuation fund, a corporate structure or a family trust. Speaking to an experienced estate planning lawyer who could offer you invaluable advice on the most suitable structure for your estate could give you the peace of mind knowing your assets and money are going to the right place.
What type of Will works best for me?
This depends on the wealth of your assets and if you have company or trust structures.
Simple Wills are great for singles or families with modest assets. If you have children and want each of them to receive an equal portion of your estate when they turn a certain age, then a simple Will may be right for you.
Complex Wills with testamentary trusts will costs you more in legal fees but it may be more appropriate if you have significant assets which you wish to pass on to your child or children in a controlled way. One of the main benefits of testamentary trusts Wills is to provide asset protection for beneficiaries against creditors and potential family law claims. The other added benefit is in circumstances where there are minor beneficiaries involved as minors are able to receive income up to the adult tax-free threshold.
Complex Wills can be used also if you have a child with special needs where you wish to set up a Special Disability Trust.
Understand what your Will does and do not control
If you own a home in joint names, the home automatically gets transferred to the surviving home owner irrespective of what your Will states – unless the nature of the ownership is one of tenants in common. If you jointly own your home with your partner but the relationship breaks down, we recommend that you speak with one of our experienced Family Lawyers.
Your Will also does not necessarily control your superannuation entitlements or personal life insurance unless they are aligned with the wordings under your Will. It is prudent that you speak with your estate planning lawyer who will take into account some of these most valuable assets that often falls outside the scope of your Will.
Are Wills the only document I will need to consider?
Other estate planning documents such as Enduring Power of Attorney (Financial and Personal) and Appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Maker also play a crucial role.
You should also ensure that you have made a nomination under your superannuation fund’s Binding Death Benefit Nomination and that nomination correlates to the beneficiary under your Will. This also applies to any life insurance policy you hold.
How can Nevett Ford help?
If you have any queries regarding Wills, Powers of Attorney or any Estate Planning issue, please contact our Wills & Estates team on 03 9614 7111 who will be able to assist you or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.