Nobody likes to think about it too much, but inevitably you’ll one day have to leave your business or farm, whether by selling up, retiring or leaving for health reasons.
It is very important to have a succession plan in place that makes the transition easy not only for yourself but also for your family or employees and minimises the chances of the business or farm having to be sold up when you leave.
Estate planning goes beyond drafting a Will. It includes assessment of assets, assessment of likely taxation, advice regarding the possibility of claims against the estate by third parties and the protection of assets.
Estate planning is an active process of re-evaluating the estate when circumstances in life change, such as change in relationship by marriage or divorce, change in assets, change in working conditions, changes to superannuation and insurance policies and establishment of discretionary trusts. A successful plan is made involving all family members as it will take into account not only provisions for your retirement income but also the plans, aptitudes and existing assets of younger generations.
At the very least, we recommend that you make a Will. We believe strongly in enabling everyone to ensure that their wishes are properly recorded and, hopefully, carried out in the event of their passing, which is why we offer simple Wills at extremely affordable rates – just $99 for all standard Wills. It’s important to us and we hope it’s also important to you.
You need to make a Will that makes your wishes clear, avoids confusion and conflict amongst your loved ones and is legally valid and binding. Doing this will protect your family and friends from costly and stressful legal disputes at a difficult time in their life.
Here’s some things you’ll need to consider when instructing us to prepare your Will:
- Who will be your executors? Your executors have the legal and administrative task of sorting out your assets and debts after you die and making sure that your wishes as outlined in the Will are upheld
- Who will be your beneficiaries and what effect will their inheritance have on their circumstances? You can designate anyone as a beneficiary and distribute your assets in any way you like. However, if you don’t provide for your family and dependents, your Will can be contested and your hard earned assets used on litigation fees. You should also consider the effects that an inheritance may have on your beneficiaries. In some cases, a testamentary trust can sidestep potential taxation problems, so it’s important that you get specific advice about your situation
- How do you know a Will is valid? To be valid, the person making the Will must be mentally competent and the Will must be correctly signed and witnessed and show no evidence of tampering. The witnesses to the Will cannot be beneficiaries, or related to beneficiaries, and must be over 18 years old. If there is any doubt or potential for dispute as to your mental competence, you should get a doctor’s confirmation of your capacity to make the Will and include it with your Will
- How often should you review your Will? You should certainly review your Will after any major events, such as marriage, divorce, property purchase or sale, death of a beneficiary or if your assets change significantly. We also recommend that you take a look at your Will every couple of years just to make sure that it is still the best instrument for you and for your family
We know the potential pitfalls and will ask you all the right questions to make sure that you have considered every possibility. We can advise you as to whether you would be best with a Will or a testamentary trust. We can prepare your Will in such a way to help protect your family from expensive estate litigation after your death and we can safely store your Will in our secure vault.
At the same time as considering your Will, we strongly recommend that you also put in place plans for any future incapacity through Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardianship documents. This will ensure that, if you somehow become unable to make decisions about your finances, your medical treatment or living arrangements, then the person or persons who you trust to make these decisions can do so unhindered.
One of the most important things to remember about these documents is that you can’t make them after you’ve lost mental capacity. By then, it’s too late. So make sure you have them in place sooner rather than later.