What most people don’t realise is that estate planning is more than just making a Will. Estate planning also deals with the ways in which your assets are held and can be effected by any trust, companies or the way in which particular assets are owned. Here are some tips to consider when it comes to estate planning:
1. ESTATE PLANNING IS A TEAM EFFORT:
In order to prepare a complete estate plan advice should be sought from a range of professionals including a lawyer, accountant and a financial planner. Each profession will be able to advise you on different aspects of your plan which will in turn help you make the right choices.
2. KNOW YOUR ASSETS:
It is important to be aware of how your assets are held and whether they will form a part of your estate. Assets held within companies or trusts effect the true ownership of assets and although you may have control over those assets they may not form a part of your estate. You should seek advice as to whether it would be beneficial to have those assets held in your personal capacity so that they flow through your Will.
3. DON’T FORGET THE SUPER:
Superannuation and life insurance policies may not form a part of your estate depending on the policy and the fund that you are a member of. You should get in touch with your superannuation fund to determine whether a nomination is made and then obtain advice as to the best way for those funds to be distributed. You may need to make a binding death nomination.
4. DON’T FORGET THE ONLINE ACCOUNTS:
With the way the world is going, everything is becoming paperless, bills are being sent by email and assets can be held in the cloud. Whilst this may be convenient and save the world, it can give an executor a head ache when they attempt to source the assets and liabilities of an estate. You should prepare a plan in case something happens to you and your emails or other accounts need to be accessed. This could be something as simple as including certain information in your Will or putting a list of usernames and passwords with your Will.
5. BUT I’M NOT DEAD YET:
A good estate plan should also help you if you have a senior’s accident and survive or you start to lose your ability to look after your own affairs. Documents like an Enduring Power of Attorney (“EPA”) and Enduring Power of Guardianship (“EPG”) can assist with the management of your estate whilst you are still alive. An EPA allows another person to deal with your finances, assets and liabilities when you are unable to do so. For example if you’re in hospital and need someone to go to the bank and pay your bills for you, the person appointed under the EPA can do that on your behalf. An EPG, on the other hand, allows another person to make health and lifestyle decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. For more information, review our fact sheets on EPA/EPG.
6. “SHE’LL BE RIGHT”:
It is never too early to start preparing an estate plan for after you pass away but it can be, and frequently is, too late once you have passed away. There are different degrees to estate planning, whether it be just getting a will or incorporating accountants, lawyers and financial planners to prepare a complete estate plan. If you die without a Will then the Administration Act 1903 (WA) determines how your estate is to be divided, which may not be in accordance with your wishes. You never know when you are going to die but you can prepare for it as early as you like. If you leave it till too late your family are the ones who are going to have to deal with all of the issues.
At Lynn & Brown Lawyers we have a dedicated Perth-local team with vast experience in estate planning and deceased estates. If you are planning your estate need some help navigating any of the above, or if you have general queries about how to plan your estate please contact us.
For more estate planning insights from the Lynn & Brown Lawyers team, read our publications on top 5 tips for executors of a will, why you should review your will, and Estate Planning: Flowchart of the Deceased Estates Process.
About the authors:
This article has been co-authored by Aaron Plenderleith and Steven Brown at Lynn & Brown Lawyers. Aaron is a Perth lawyer and practices in the areas of criminal law, commercial law and Wills and Estates. Steven is a Perth lawyer and director, and has over 20 years’ experience in legal practice and practices in commercial law, dispute resolution and estate planning.