Estate Planning: Key Factors to Keep in Mind

older couple looking at a laptop

Estate planning is an important part of defining and protecting your interests.

Wills and estate planning can be a daunting process. However, an estate administration lawyer will help you create, implement and modify the right plan for you.

The process is fluid and should be reflective of your family’s structure, living circumstances, and financial position.

End-of-life planning can be as comprehensive as you make it. Importantly, you should consider future generations and the people you care about the most.

Review Your Will

Only 50 per cent of Australian adults have a valid Will. However, it is one of the most important parts of estate planning.

Life can change in an instance, and this legally binding document safeguards the assets that you own.

A Will helps you to figure out the who, what, when and how your assets will be dissolved.

There are several key areas to focus on when writing your Will:

  • children
  • assets
  • belongings
  • beneficiaries.

Wills are relatively inexpensive and could avoid any legal challenges from family members or other interested stakeholders.

A lawyer can ensure that your Will and estate planning covers all accounts and assets. The RV Legal team can also advise on legal constraints to ensure that it will not be challenged after you die.

We can also provide practical advice on how to prepare your Will and where to distribute assets amongst loved ones and beyond.

Select A Power Of Attorney

A nominated individual who serves as an enduring power of attorney has significant legal power.

This individual is crucial if you lose the capacity to make certain decisions. These decisions may include where you live after a critical accident; how to spend your money; and what support services you may need.

As such, this document ensures your nominated person has the legal authority to manage your choices and affairs. Many people choose their spouse, adult child or a sibling.

When thinking about who to appoint as your power of attorney, ask ‘do I trust this person?’ and ‘is this person prepared to make crucial life decisions on my behalf?’

The Importance of a Testamentary Trust

Trusts are important when you have dependants who are under 18, as it allocates a trustee to manage their inheritances.

A testamentary trust allows for more control over the distribution of your assets. They place a trustee in charge of the deceased person’s affairs, and they hold assets on behalf of the beneficiaries.

While beneficiaries of the Will can manage and redistribute their inheritance, they do not own the assets under law. For example, if the beneficiary is under the age of 18, a trustee can ensure their assets are maintained until they become an adult.

This also means that any allocated funds cannot be involved in financial disputes. There are also tax incentives.

As a general rule, when there are well-considered succession plans in place, like a testamentary trust, there are unlikely to be any challenges to your Will.

There are also discretionary trusts and special disability trusts that can be allocated to suit your needs.

Appoint A Trustworthy Executor

An executor is a crucial part of a deceased estate administration. This reliable person carries out your best wishes and enacts your Will.

Probate is the legal term that certifies a person’s Will. Once this process has been completed, the executor can begin the process of allocating assets to the beneficiaries.

This process may be time-consuming, and can include paying debts, collecting assets and communicating with the beneficiaries about their allocations or inheritance.

An executor should be a responsible adult who knows you well, is well organised and respected among your networks. There are some important considerations, including:

  • the willingness of your executor
  • the relationship to your executor
  • the complexity of your Will
  • appointing multiple executors.

You can nominate one or more individuals to be the executor of your Will, or a trustee company.

The process of estate administration can take many months, or even years, so it is imperative that your elected executor understands the task and is willing to assist.

Double Check Your Documents

A senior advisor who can assist with wealth distribution and management is an essential part of estate planning.

For example, you may wish to involve an accountant, a financial advisor, or wealth management specialist to safeguard your estate and assets.

Importantly, you should take the time to read through all legal documents and take appropriate action if there are changes to your living circumstances.

Seek Professional Help

People can put off or neglect writing their Wills. However, the RV Legal team ensures the process simple and streamlined so you can continue living your life to the fullest.

RV Legal offers highly-specialised Wills and estate planning advice.

We tailor our advice to your individual situation by getting to know you and your situation.

For more information, please contact us.