Estate planning provides assurance for dependants
The adequacy of provision for your emotional and financial dependants is reflected in estate planning – and your attention to their best interests in your estate planning reflects in your Will (primarily; and may be supported by other documentation as well).
What is ‘a Will’?
In brief terms, a Will (more formally referred to as a ‘Last Will and Testament’) is:
- a written declaration describing how a person’s assets are to be distributed after his or her death;
- revocable during the lifetime of the person who made the Will; and
- must be executed properly for it to be accepted as a valid statement of the deceased’s intentions.
The Will document, validly prepared and signed, is the last opportunity for a testator to provide for the distribution of their estate – but must be drafted with appropriate consideration of all who might justly expect to benefit from the estate after the demise of the testator. (This is so as to minimise the risk of any legal challenge to its being administered as written.)
Is a Will a complicated document?
Wills can be written in a very simple form, or in quite complex detail: each may be as effective as the other – in their specific circumstances. Generally speaking, the more complex the family structure, relationship ‘tree’ or financial arrangements – the more complex the Will needs to be.
If you don’t have a Will there is no guarantee that what you intend to happen will happen. This can cause hardship to those closest to you: and perhaps financially dependant on you. If there is no valid Will in place at the time of your demise, you are said to have ‘died intestate‘.
What are the consequences of dying intestate? (i.e., no valid Will in place)
Your estate will be distributed under the rules of intestacy. These rules are very general and are unlikely to reflect your specific wishes. For instance:
- your partner may not automatically be entitled to all of your estate;
- your partner may be forced to sell the family home or car so other beneficiaries can claim their share of your assets;
- the safety net you put in place to protect your children’s future and inheritance may be lost;
- someone you may not have chosen could be appointed guardian of your children;
- someone you do not wish to benefit could become a beneficiary;
- your children could take control of their inheritance at 18 rather than a more mature age.
Having a valid Will in place makes the winding up of your estate less confusing, quicker and, because of costs saved in administering the estate, more valuable to your beneficiaries.
Your estate planning reflects in your Will
A comprehensive Estate Plan is one that exists well prior to the demise of the person making the plan (and well prior to them becoming ‘incompetent to make a Will) – and deals with life situations that may occur well prior to their demise. Typically, an estate Plan will incorporate a valid Will, appropriate Powers of Attorney (including EPAs), a comprehensive wealth accumulation financial plan (probably supported by personal risk insurance protection) and a good record-keeping system.
A legal adviser, qualified and experienced in this area of the law should be engaged to assist in the preparation of the Will. Continuum Financial Planners Pty Ltd has a network of professionals experienced in various aspects of Estate Planning and drafting of the documentation to formalise a comprehensive estate plan: our role is to compile the facts and detail required for the specialists to devise and recommend a plan for you. To arrange a meeting with one of our advisers, please call our office (on 07-34213456), or use the website Contact Us facility – and we will respond promptly and courteously.