What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is a strategy designed to protect the wealth you have built over your lifetime so that it is distributed smoothly according to your wishes. A complete estate plan will allow you to remain in control of your assets and decide who will make decisions on your behalf should you become unable to in the future. This may include more than just a Will and a Power of Attorney. An estate plan may also take into account superannuation proceeds, assets held solely in your name or jointly with others, or assets held in private companies or trusts.

Do I need an estate plan?

If you own anything or have people who rely on you financially it is a good idea to have an estate plan. You should then regularly review your estate plan whenever your circumstances change, such as you get married, commence a de facto relationship, separate, divorce, have children, buy real estate, buy/sell/operate a business, you set up a family trust/company or you have special needs family members or children who are vulnerable (eg likely to get divorced, get into financial difficulties, etc).

I have a Will, isn’t that enough?

In some cases simply having a Will is not enough to effectively plan for and provide for the most effective transfer of your wealth upon your death. A comprehensive estate plan will take into account:

  • whether probate can be avoided
  • whether the tax liability of your estate for your beneficiaries can be minimised
  • the best investment or business structures
  • protection of your assets from third party claims
  • management of the inheritances of vulnerable beneficiaries
  • support of surviving spouse and family
  • protection of children’s inheritance
  • education of children or grandchildren
  • management of assets for the benefit of current and future generations

What might my estate plan include?

It will depend on your assets and the personal circumstances of your beneficiaries as to whether your estate plan might include:

  • a will
  • power of attorney
  • appointment of enduring guardian
  • testamentary discretionary trusts
  • setting up or amending your family trust deed
  • setting up a self managed superannuation fund
  • establishment of charitable bequests
  • arrangements for continuation of the family business