Making sure your Estate Planning is in order is essential to protect your loved ones, prevent unnecessary complications, and ensure that your assets are distributed as you’d wish. However, it’s all too easy to put off, with studies showing that at least 45% of Australians don’t have a Will in place.
If you haven’t tackled your Estate Planning yet or have concerns about what you’ve put in place, rest assured that sorting it out is a matter of following a logical process of considerations and getting good expert advice. Follows are some key things to consider and how we can help.
What happens if you don’t have a Will?
If you die intestate, that is, without a valid Will in place, your estate is distributed according to a pre-determined formula. This is governed by the intestacy laws of the state in which you reside. Generally, it will be divided between your next of kin, which can include your children, spouse, siblings or parents. If your only living relatives are more distant than first cousins, your estate could pass to the government.
What does Estate Planning involve?
Estate Planning is not just about drafting a Will, however, it’s about forward thinking, asset protection, and establishing structures to ensure the orderly transfer of assets to your preferred beneficiaries in a tax effective and timely manner. It’s also important to review your planning from time to time, as any change in your finances, family or personal circumstances may require your documents to be updated.
Key things to consider
The exact process will depend on your specific circumstances, but the following are the main factors most people need to consider:
- Do you have a detailed record of all of your assets and who you wish to receive them? These may include property, cash, investments, superannuation, vehicles, jewellery, art, and other possessions.
- Does your Will inform your loved ones about your wishes for your funeral, burial or cremation? Do you wish to be an organ donor?
- If you have dependents, have you designated Legal Guardians for them?
- Have you designated beneficiaries for funds such as your super accounts or investment accounts?
- What effect will taxes have on your Estate? There are steps you can take during your Estate Planning process to limit the impact of taxes such as Capital Gains Tax on your beneficiaries.
- Do you have an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) appointed who can manage your financial affairs if you become unable to? You may also wish to appoint an Enduring Power of Guardianship. While an EPA handles your financial affairs, an Enduring Guardian has the authority to make decisions about your lifestyle, healthcare and medical treatment if you are unable to.
- Do you need a Testamentary Trust? This can help prevent challenges to your Will and ensure that your estate is distributed in a more tax effective manner.
How IAS can help
Estate Planning can be complex, depending upon your wishes, assets and dependents, so it’s always important to get good up-to-date advice, including about how any recent legislation or tax changes that may affect your beneficiaries.
We can facilitate a meeting with our legal practitioner to ensure that your Estate Planning needs are in order and up to date. This can provide you with the peace of mind that your wishes will be followed.
The process will ensure that you have a good understanding of Estate Planning requirements, including procedures, cost and any specific conditions in your Will. It will consider the following:
- Who you wish to receive your inheritance.
- Whether you require a Testamentary Trust.
- If any charitable causes should be considered.
- Which estate plan structure best suits your circumstances.
- The appointment of your Enduring Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardian.
- If there are changes to your circumstances in the future, we will facilitate a review with the Estate Planning specialist to ensure that everything is up-to-date.
Do you need help with your estate planning? Call us anytime on (02) 8268 2900 for an obligation-free talk.