Estate Planning & Wills

  • New Wills
  • Updating Wills
  • Advice for life changes
  • Challenging and contesting Wills
  • Legal Advice for Estate Planning

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What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is the process of predicting and arranging the management and disposal of that person’s estate with an aim to minimise tax. Preparing a will gives a clear guide of how you want your assets distributed. Preparing your Will and other estate planning documents poorly can have expensive consequences for your family and loved ones.

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How we can help

Without a valid Will, the distribution of your assets will be according to the rules of intestacy – not according to your wishes.

  • Making new Wills
  • Changing or updating existing Wills.
  • Amending Wills in events of divorce or other significant changes in your life
  • Advice for defacto relationships
  • Advice for new relationships and mixed families
  • Preparing Powers of Attorney
  • Preparing Enduring Powers of Attorney
  • Administration of a deceased estate, including superannuation and death benefits, and Will disputes (see more on our Probate page)

Avoiding Common Pitfalls

All Wills are not the same. We will ask lots of questions and check information you have given us so that you can be sure your anticipated beneficiaries receive your estate. Simple small nasty mistakes such as not holding your family home in the correct tenancy or leaving your Super to an adult child have huge tax implications on your estate. Contact our team for a copy of our Estate Planning Guide.

What is a Testator?

This is the legal term given to a person who has made a Will.

What is a valid Will?

A Will is a legal document that instructs your loved ones on how to distribute your worldly possessions (your estate) upon your death. It also allows you to elect the guardians of your children and the person who will be managing your estate when you pass away (the Executor).

In order to have a valid Will you must:

  1. Have the intention of creating a Will; and
  2. Sign all the pages of the Will in the presence of two or more witnesses.

What happens if I die without a Will?

If you die without a Will you are deemed to have died ‘Intestate.’ This means that your estate will be distributed in accordance with a set formula set out by your state or territory’s succession laws. This may lead to your estate being distributed in a way that is different from what you have intended or even distributed to people that you have been estranged from for many years. A Will is your chance to make sure that your estate goes to the people that you love and not to anyone else.

Do Wills expire?

Wills do not expire but they can be revoked by new Will. Even though this may be the case, it is always prudent to update your Wills at least every seven years or on the occurrence of a major life changing event (Marriage, Divorce or having children). The longer you put off revising your Will, the greater the danger of your estate being distributed in a way that does not reflect your current wishes.

Can a Will help my estate from being contested?

Yes! A Will is designed to record your testamentary wishes so that your estate does not fall into the wrong hands. Although a Will does not prevent people from contesting your estate, it will mitigate their chances of making a successful claim. Having a Will can make sure that the money that you have given to your family is not spent on legal fees in protecting your estate.

What are the tax implications for the people I love if I don't have a valid Will?

A Will provides many tax advantages that those dying ‘Intestate’ do not have. A trustee of a Testamentary Discretionary Trust in a Will can move and manage the income of the trust in a way that is both tax effective and efficient. They are also able to manage a Testamentary Discretionary Trust for a beneficiary that is a foreign resident so that they do not need to pay Stamp Duty or Capital Gains Tax on their inheritance.

Can't I just use a DIY Will Kit?

DIY projects always sound good and cheap at the start, but they usually fall apart as soon as you start using them. A DIY Will is no exception. DIY Wills are not able to properly protect your estate from claims made against it. They also do not have the structures within them to cultivate and nurture the investments that you have made in life after you have passed away. A table built by a carpenter will always be superior to a table you build yourself. The same can be said about a solicitor drafting your Will.

How do I ensure others know I have a Will?

When you have finished signing a Will it is always important to keep a copy in a place where people would most likely find it; like where you keep your Passports, Birth Certificates, and other valuable documentation. It is also always prudent to provide a copy of your Will to your Executor so when you pass away they will already know where to find the original.

Where should I store my Will?

It is a fact of life that when people move around, things get lost. That is why it is important to keep track of where your original Will is located. Our storage services allow you to place your Wills in our own safe custody storage facilities so that you and your family do not need to worry about misplacing them.

How do Wills work with defacto relationships?

Creating a Will when you are in a de-facto relationship is very similar to drafting a Will if you were married. However, many states and territories have laws that automatically revoke a Will upon a person getting married to ensure that their new partner is properly provided for. It is therefore important to that you talk to us to ensure that the Will that you draft up is not revoked upon your marriage.

When should I get a Will?

Ideally every adult should have a valid Will. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics approximately one person dies in Australia every three minutes. The causes of these deaths and ages of these people vary. Death does not discriminate on age, so it is important to be proactive about your estate planning to save our loved ones from any undue stress. No one knows when they are going to die. It could be two decades from now or it could be in the next three minutes.

Arrange a free chat with Amanda our estate planning lawyer today!
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