Having a properly prepared Will makes the process smoother for those left behind dealing with the death of a loved one. A Will ensures your assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes. Not having a Will can add unnecessary stress, delays, and costs to what is already a difficult time.
Preparing a Will with proper estate planning ensures that your assets are distributed as you intend them to be with proper risk management, financial and tax considerations.
We prepare the necessary Court documents so that the deceased estate can be dealt with whether or not there is a valid Will.
A Power of Attorney is useful in situations where you still have capacity but are otherwise unable to act for yourself, for example if you are overseas. It gives another person, your Attorney or ‘donee’, the authority to deal with your affairs such as purchasing property or operating your bank account. Nominating an Attorney does not mean you lose control of your affairs, and you can always limit their authority. If you wish your Power of Attorney to continue despite your loss of capacity, you need an Enduring Power of Attorney.
An Advance Care Directive allows you to appoint another person to make decisions about your health care and welfare in the event that you become unable to make those decisions in the future. It allows you to set out your wishes for how and where you will live, and lets you nominate the types of medical treatments you may wish to have. If something does go wrong an Advance Care Directive will ensure you are being cared for in accordance with your own wishes.
Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging for the disposal of your estate, and may go beyond what a simple Will can dictate. The disposal can be intended only after your death, or it can arise as you plan for retirement or even as you start your next big venture. Structures like Family & Testamentary Trusts can be used to own or hold your assets, which can have significant Capital Gains Tax and Stamp Duty benefits. Working in conjunction with your accountant, we can advise you on succession planning and assist you in preparing the necessary documents to maximise the financial value of your assets that are passed on.
Setting up a Trust allows you to give your assets to a trusted individual to hold on behalf of your family, friends, or even charities. These allow you to transfer assets out of your own name and stipulate how those assets, including any income they may generate, are to be treated. Trust structures can have significant tax benefits associated. A Testamentary Trust is created by a Will and will arise upon your death. They are commonly used in situations where you would desire a business or land asset to remain in the family, to be passed on to children over time. A Family Trust differs in that it is created whilst you are still living, and can be useful when the benefits to not having an asset in your name are sought.
The administration of an estate is a process which should not be understated. It is not unusual for some to mistakenly believe that they can deal with an estate because they hold a Power of Attorney, however most situations will require a Grant of Probate by the Probate Registry of the Supreme Court. An application for Probate can be a highly technical process and there are significant obligations on the executor of an estate. We can assist in the administration of an estate, including applying for Probate, selling, leasing or mortgaging the estate, and distributing proceeds of sale.
The death of a loved one is always stressful. Occasionally this can spill over into disputes amongst family members, and commonly the dispute involves how strictly the Will should be followed. One or more children may feel inadequately provided for, or may wish to receive a larger share of the estate in recognition of their contribution to the life of the deceased. We can assist executors and beneficiaries with contested estates and other estate applications. Our Collaborative approach to dispute resolution will assert your legal rights whilst ensuring Court fees and legal costs are minimised.
Unfortunately, death is an unavoidable consequence of life. If you die without a Will in place, an Act of Parliament will decide how your property is distributed. This may well ignore any intentions you could have for your property, and will likely not include any specific gifts you may wish to give. It will be a costly process, and there will be a greater delay in your estate being administered.
Dying without a Will in place (dying ‘intestate’) can be complicated by many factors, such as the size of the estate, a spouse or de facto partner, or any children they may have had. If you are looking to administer or dispute the estate of someone who has died intestate, we can advise you.
We recommend that you review your Will whenever a significant event occurs or around every 5 years, though there are no strict rules of course. Marriage and divorce in particular can affect or even invalidate your existing Will. Other important events might include the founding of a business, or just purchasing an investment property.