Why is A Will and Estate planning such a highly specialised task?

Potential complex legal, tax and financial matters all need to be considered carefully to ensure that your estate is distributed as you wish. An estate plan is designed to protect your assets for your family, both during your lifetime and after you die.

Why else?

As the purpose of an estate plan is to ensure assets are protected for beneficiaries as assets move from one generation to the next and the next.

Can Centrelink benefits be affected by poor Estate Planning?

Absolutely. There are many instances where Centrelink benefits are affected. For example when one partner dies and the other partners benefits could be stopped by Centrelink. This happened because of the way the surviving partner received the assets of their spouse. A failure in the government assets and income test for their pension caused benefits to cease. They then had to rely on other family for assistance until affairs could be re-arranged. Unfortunately under current government rules, Centrelink don’t accept “quick fix rearrangements”, they have a time constraint before starting paying benefits again.

What about Cost?

Effective estate planning will pay for itself many times over. In a court case settled in 2008 the legal costs at the conclusion of the trial were almost $180,000. In this case the total estate was valued at the beginning of the trial (house and other assets) at $476,000. Legal fees cost nearly 37% of the assets left behind by the deceased. The will had not been prepared by a specialist. The end result was the widow left behind has had to sell her home to pay legal fees and after she distributed money how the court ordered. She was left in debt of nearly $70,000 and no home to live in. You seriously have to ask yourself, was this really the outcome that the deceased husband was intending for his wife?

What’s wrong with A Will pack I can get online or at a newsagent?

The use of generic “newsagent” or “off the shelf” products has proven to sometimes lead to serious financial and emotional consequences that can go on long after you’re gone.There is no shortage of court cases where a cheap “easy to get will” has caused these issues for surviving families.

What should I do?

Get the right advice from suitably trained and accredited legal specialists.

Why do I need to go through this assessment process?

Our world today has become more challenging and complex, especially with finances, taxes and legal options. Knowing what areas are likely to cause problems and solving them now, will you give you peace of mind and the same for those you leave behind.

Can you give me an example?

One of many many examples is where a man has children with his first wife, then re-marries has more children with her. Because marriage automatically revokes all prior Wills, his older children may be concerned that his new wife and her children may influence him to their advantage and at the expense of the older children’s inheritances. So if the planning is ignored or not done properly, those left behind could suffer. If a challenge on this Will is undertaken after this person passes, it is likely to take years and could costs tens of thousands if not over a hundred thousand dollars in legals.

What else do I need to know?

This has become a modern day growth area for lawyers who work in this area. They find this an easy and lucrative target area to take advantage of people for two main reasons. The first one is people’s apathy in paying attention to this area and secondly it is easy to act for someone who is feeling emotional or hardly done by, about money matters.

What else is going on?

Competing family interests or fighting over money is not new, and poor Will and Estate Planning can and does ignite these issues.

Why do estate plans fail?

Sloppy documentation that is outdated for today. A failure by people to record changes in circumstances. Untrained lawyers putting Wills together combined with situational complexities that were never addressed properly in the first place. These are just some of the reasons they fail.

What about becoming disabled as opposed to dying, how does Estate Planning help me then?

If you were to become disabled and have no plan and can’t run your affairs, your assets might end up in a Government or Court regulated guardianship. This is where you and your family might lose total control of assets, and even access to bank accounts in your name.

If I leave assets to my family, isn’t it their responsibility to look after those assets?

Yes and No. It may be necessary to protect the inherited assets from the beneficiaries themselves, their spouses, their children, and outside influences such as an ex-son in law or ex daughter in law. Another example is that you may want to direct that assets stay within the family rather than the risk of a re-marriage by your partner/spouse after your death. If your spouse/partner remarried after you died , and then died, your assets could be passed to someone who you didn’t even know.

Why don’t people act straight away?

Death, taxes, and share-market corrections may be unavoidable however they don’t have to ruin your family or your business. Some people resist, or procrastinate because they don’t know what to do and as a result put it off. Additionally, the concepts of aging, illness and incapacity are scary, and seem unnecessary and too far away when we are well. Unfortunately both accident & illness are unpredictable, no matter how good you currently feel.

What if I died without a will?

Failing to plan for this outcome can only cost your family. Is that the legacy you wish to leave?In fact by not doing anything you have actually already made a decision. You have actually decided to forfeit the right to have any say on how your assets will be distributed upon your death.

Should you die without a Will, you have just handed control to someone outside your immediate family. Case studies reveal this can be a very expensive exercise and can take many years to sort out. In effect you have transferred control out of your family’s hands and to someone else.

What are some of the other issues?

A newsagent or online cheap “easy to do” Will is tempting because of cost. It can be and often is a complete waste of money and can easily turn your estate into a costly and money draining event. A typical “Mum and Dad” Will may have worked in the past, however, it may not be the case in these more complex times of taxes and super.

 

Is my Will going to cause unwanted Capital Gains or Taxes for those I leave behind because I was never asked the question, or I didn’t ask?

There can be significant taxes that are triggered after death, and even small estates can wind up with substantial tax bills. A common situation is to have a surviving spouse to end up paying more in Income Tax because of poor forward planning. This can go on for many years. The answer is a specialist who knows the options and may need to work in conjunction with your Accountant and or Financial Planner. The effect of not doing this means the value of what you leave behind could be diminished.

 

Does your Will protect each of your beneficiaries from losing their inheritance to a future relationship breakdown or possible bankruptcy?

The “easy to get” Will may create the dangerous scenario of no asset protection. This could result in a possible future bankrupt beneficiary losing an entire inheritance to unfriendly creditors. Our experienced specialist estate planning lawyer can draft provisions in your Will to protect what you have built for your beneficiaries to enjoy and maximise their inheritance. What you are aiming for here is to reduce the risk of loss of an inheritance through bankruptcy or future relationship breakdown. The alternative can end up being very costly in legal fees.

 

Does your Will protect each of your beneficiaries from losing their inheritance to a future relationship breakdown or possible bankruptcy?

The “easy to get” Will may create the dangerous scenario of no asset protection. This could result in a possible future bankrupt beneficiary losing an entire inheritance to unfriendly creditors. Our experienced specialist estate planning lawyer can draft provisions in your Will to protect what you have built for your beneficiaries to enjoy and maximise their inheritance. What you are aiming for here is to reduce the risk of loss of an inheritance through bankruptcy or future relationship breakdown. The alternative can end up being very costly in legal fees.

 

Can my Superannuation be affected when I die?

Most certainly. The right advice is essential. Unfortunately as you read this, there are papers in circulation written by legal people on the subject of “How to attack Death benefits in Superannuation”. You really have to ask why would they be doing this?

 

Contact Us Now Regarding Your Estate Plan!