An Estate Plan is not the type of thing most people think about very often. However, if you haven’t already done so, NOW is the right time to put your affairs in order.
LGen has developed a leading-edge technology platform to create comprehensive Estate Plans, tailored to your unique situation.
The LGen platform is the engine that integrates all the services required to deliver a wealth preservation plan in a “no hassle” efficient and cost-effective manner.
You may be thinking – “I don’t have to do anything about it because I’m young and healthy”. Or is it more a case of – “I know that my family will do the right thing if something happens to me” or even – “I don’t own much, so there’s no point in me doing anything”.
The reality is of course, that we cannot guarantee that the unexpected won’t happen to us .. a car accident, an accident around the home (e.g., falling off a ladder) or any one of a multitude of situations where we either end up dead or permanently disabled/mentally incapacitated and hence – unable to look after our affairs or even make decisions about our health care.
The truth is that “YES”, everyone needs a sufficient and up-to-date Estate Plan no matter what stage of life we are at – and the sooner we get one, the better.
Your Will should be a detailed list of instructions on how to divide up and distribute everything you own (referred to as your Estate) after your death. It’s important that your Will covers all your real, financial, material and digital possessions and that it clearly instructs your appointed Executor how to distribute them and to whom. Your Will can also include other instructions concerning guardianship of children, funeral arrangements, organ donation wishes, charitable bequests and more.
This is a legal document granting another individual the authority to handle your personal and financial decision-making in the event of your death or mental incapacity. In the eyes of the law, an Enduring Power of Attorney gives the person you nominate equal standing with yourself with respect to any decision regarding your life and finances.
Also referred to as a “Living Will”, an Advance Health Directive is a set of instructions specific to your future health care and allows you to make decisions regarding your health ahead of time. As with an Enduring Power of Attorney, you nominate an individual to have authority to execute your wishes as outlined in the document and to make decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to.
Your death will be hard enough on your family already; you don’t want to leave them a financial and legal mess on top of it. You want to make that sure spouses, children and grandchildren are properly taken care of and unfortunately, you can’t just vaguely trust that “the right thing” will be done. A clear, comprehensive and explicit Will ensures that there is no room for doubt or interpretation and that none of your loved ones suffer excessive financial or emotional stress.
You can protect minors with a guardianship agreement and financial trust arrangements (usually in the form of a Testamentary Trust provision in your Will) to see them through to adulthood. By properly quantifying your whole estate, you can ensure that there are no items left “up for grabs” by greedy third parties. And with some discussion and agreement beforehand, you can distribute heirlooms or items of sentimental value without any fighting or debate.
Besides a Will, there are other things you can do to take care of your loved ones as part of your estate planning before you die. Australian property law allows property assets (or “real” assets) being held in multiple names, for example by spouses or partners, in which case ownership can automatically transfer to the living spouse on the death of the other. It is highly recommended to consider Death and Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) insurance as part of your estate planning. Above all, communicate with your loved ones thoroughly and honestly about your estate plan while you still can!
When someone passes away, even with a Will and Estate Plan in place, Probate is usually required before any of your instructions can be carried out.
Probate is the legal process whereby the Supreme Court validates your Will and gives authority to the Executor to commence distribution of your Estate. Once the process is complete, the Court issues a “Grant of Probate” – a legal document confirming the validity of the Will and authority of the Executor. Financial institutions holding the financial assets of the deceased will usually require a copy of the Grant of Probate before releasing any funds.
The Grant of Probate is a powerful document and the Supreme Court will not issue it lightly. If you don’t have a Will in place, have an unclear, incomplete, or poorly drafted Will, or even multiple differing Wills at the time of your death, the Probate application can become a long, drawn-out, and very expensive exercise. On top of the emotional and financial stress it can place on families, Probate may be tied up for years or, in extreme cases, not be issued at all.
With a comprehensive, clear, and detailed Will and Estate Plan in place, the Probate process goes a lot smoother with no unnecessary hold-ups or expensive legal hassles.
This predominantly applies to financial assets however, if your Will and Estate Plan is non-existent, unclear, or incomplete, the Court may make determinations about your asset distribution that are contrary to your intentions. Proper estate planning needs to include complex asset structures and clear instructions to go with them. If you have family or discretionary trusts, these need to be comprehensively described and covered in your estate plan. They may protect your family from unnecessary tax and lawsuit issues now but they add complexity and could cause issues if not properly quantified and accounted for in your Will.
The most sure-fire way to do this properly is to engage a qualified Estate Planning Attorney and Financial Advisor. It is worth the investment for the future of your family beyond your death. Also – don’t forget to include your digital assets in your estate planning.For more information, you can read our brochure here and then to discuss further, please either email us at:
PLUS – have you reviewed and worked on your wealth protection/preservation plan this past year?
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PHIL MANHIRE (Founder & Chief Unicorn Consultant)