Estate Planning Health Check for 2021
January is well known for its New Year’s resolutions. We all make them and most of us break them before the month is even out. If preparing a new Will or updating an old Will is one of your 2021 New Year resolutions, do not let it be one of those which gets forgotten about.
If you do not have a Will in place, you are not alone. In Australia, on average only 1 in 2 adults have a Will.
A will is one of the most important and fundamental estate planning documents. It enables you to exercise control over the division of your estate and the appointment of your executors. If you die without a Will in place, your estate will be divided up based on a statutory formula. This formula may not align with your testamentary wishes and may result in unintended outcomes. A failure to plan ahead can also increase the likelihood of disputes and delays.
What about old Wills?
Sometimes an old Will can be more problematic than no Will at all. If you have an old Will which has not been reviewed for some time, you may find that it no longer reflects your wishes, that your executors are no longer appropriate or that you no longer own the assets referred to in your Will. Can you imagine having a person who you have not spoken to for 20 years suddenly administering your estate as the executor? or having your estate assets passing to your friends/siblings despite you having minor children since the making of your old Will? These are common problems with old wills.
If you have a Will in place, it is imperative that you review it at least every 3-5 years to ensure it remains appropriate.
What assets are covered by your Will?
It is very common for people to assume that their Will covers all of ‘their assets’. However, wills only address personally owned assets.
If you have a Family Trust, SMSF or business interests, you may find that without further planning and specialist advice, ‘your assets’ do not pass to your intended beneficiaries. If you have such structures in place, a Will is only one part of your overall estate plan.
How to begin preparing for your 2021 estate plan?
If you are keen to progress with your estate planning in 2021, here is a list of questions you may want to start considering:
- Who is to act as the executor of your estate?
- How is your estate to be divided? and what if your first chosen beneficiaries predecease you?
- Who is to be the guardian for any minor children?
- At what age would you like your nominated beneficiaries to take control of their inheritance?
- Do you have any funeral wishes you would like to have implemented?
- If you become incapacitated before you die, who is to manage your financial affairs and make medical and lifestyle decisions on your behalf.
In addition to the above, you should also gather a list of your assets and liabilities including details of your superannuation balances, life insurance payouts and any trust entitlement.
What to do next
At Lynn and Brown Lawyers we can assist you to implement your New Year’s estate planning resolution efficiently and at an agreed fixed price. If you would like to arrange a time to speak to one of our experienced estate planning lawyers, please contact Karolina Rzymkowska on (08) 9375 3411 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
About the author:
Karolina Rzymkowska is a Perth Lawyer and Head of Estates at Lynn & Brown Lawyers. Karolina leads the Estates Team and is highly experienced in both simple and complex estate planning, estate administration and disputed estates.