According to research, almost 50% of Australians do not have a Will and those who do have outdated Wills, which expose their families to possible financial difficulties and complications in their death.
Having an updated Will ensures that your estate and wishes are respected even after your death.
In the event of an intestate or lack of a valid Will, the Letters of Administration will be necessary.
Legislation will decide how an estate will be distributed and by whom. There are many advantages to using a solicitor to make your Will.
If you do it on your own, the Will may not comply with legal requirements and cause your estate extra expense after your death.
The solicitor will inform you about taxes on your estate and implications for estate planning.
The Will may be structured to make a difference to the tax paid from superannuation.
Note that death benefits are exempt when paid to a spouse or a dependent child, but not to other recipients. New legislation has made it more complicated as well. Persons in a close personal relationship with the deceased may now challenge a will.
You should check your superannuation fund to see who your beneficiaries are as failing to make a binding death benefit nomination may lead to unexpected consequences.
A solicitor may also be an Executor, who has a fiduciary duty to the estate, over which he must seek legal guidance.
The Executor will administer the estate, arrange the funeral, collect assets, pay debts, distribute the estate to beneficiaries, insure assets, invest unused funds and comply with tax obligations, including tax returns. He may also have to defend an estate if challenged.
Beware that some wealth cannot be left in a Will, such as superannuation which is held in trust and dealt with under the rules governing the fund. It is not an asset of the estate unless stipulated by nomination.
You should make your wishes clear in a Will so you can choose who benefits from your estate and appoint the persons you trust as Executor.
You may also nominate the personnel in a family business to continue your business during the administration of the estate.
Through your Will, you may appoint guardians for children and minimise the costs of probate and distribution delays.
You may leave legacies to charities and minimise legal claims against your estate. You should also regularly review your Will and make sure it is up to date in case you divorce or re-marry, dispose of a property or family business or a beneficiary dies.
For more information about estate planning in Australia, contact a Specialist to discuss your particular circumstances.
Chan & Naylor Group has nationwide offices in North Sydney, South West Sydney, Sydney , Pymble and Parramatta in New South Wales, Melbourne, Moonee Ponds and Hawthorn in Victoria, Brisbane and Capalaba in Queensland, and East Perth in Western Australia that can assist you with your estate planning as well as any property tax or business tax enquiry that you may have. Contact us today.