Specialist services such as Estate Planning are provided by us for several reasons. One being is that it’s an unfortunate fact that many families find themselves in difficult (but avoidable) circumstances upon the death or disability of a family member.
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.
We have access to the leading-edge technology platform designed to create comprehensive Estate Plans, tailored to your unique situation.
This platform is the engine that integrates all the services required to deliver a wealth preservation plan. Importantly, this is done 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 maybe even – “I don’t own much, so there’s no point in me doing anything”.
However, that neither you nor ourselves can guarantee that the unexpected won’t happen to us. Perhaps .. a car accident, an accident around the home (e.g., falling off a ladder). Also, there are a multitude of other situations where you could either end up dead or permanently disabled/mentally incapacitated. Hence, resulting in you being unable to look after your affairs or even make decisions about your health care.
Given the above, 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 you 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. So, it’s important that your Will covers all your real, financial, material and digital possessions. Also, it’s vital to ensure 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. As such, this applies 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. Consequently, it 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. 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. Accordingly, none of your loved ones are likely to 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. Also, 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. Also be aware that financial institutions holding your financial assets 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 could place on your family, Probate may be tied up for years. In extremes cases, a Grant of Probate may not be issued at all.
If you have a comprehensive, clear, and detailed Will and Estate Plan in place, the Probate process should go 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. Therefore, 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 Facilitator, an 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:
or call me direct on 0452 1444 76 for a confidential discussion.
Phil Manhire (Founder & Chief Unicorn Consultant)
PLUS – have you reviewed and worked on your wealth protection/preservation plan this past year?
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Meanwhile, should you have any queries that you would like answered, please contact me direct at:
or on 0452 1444 76.
PHIL MANHIRE (Founder & Chief Unicorn Consultant)