Estate planning is more than just having a Will.
It’s looking at your overall circumstances – financial and personal – and working out how best to plan your affairs so that your assets can be distributed as you wish once you’re no longer here.
It’s thinking about how to make sure that those you leave behind don’t pay more tax than they need to, and that they receive their inheritance in a way that gives them maximum flexibility to deal with changing tax and other laws.
It’s working out how to protect the interests of family members with special needs, and how to keep assets protected against threats from creditors, family law claims, and litigation from those who seek a bigger share of your estate.
And it’s about achieving peace of mind, knowing that you’ve done everything possible to put things in order for the next generation.
The members of the Holding Redlich estate planning practice work in four main areas: wills, superannuation, family law, and estate litigation.
If you die without a Will, your assets will be distributed according to a statutory formula. Even if your family situation is straightforward and your financial affairs are simple, there is every chance that this will not be as you would have wished.
We work with you, your accountants and financial advisers, to identify:
- Who should act as your executors?
- What are the assets which will pass under your Will?
- What other assets or financial resources do you have? Do you have family trusts or companies, money in superannuation, insurance policies, or business interests through partnerships, joint ventures or other structures? Are there assets overseas?
- How do you want your assets distributed on your death?
- Are there family members who need special consideration, and should have their inheritance dealt with in a special way to protect their interests?
- How can the tax position of your estate and beneficiaries best be managed?
- How can succession be addressed, for family companies and businesses?
- Might testamentary trusts provide valuable advantages for your beneficiaries?
Once we have a clear picture of your circumstances, we prepare a Will and other documents designed to achieve your objectives.
We also discuss “living” estate planning issues, and identify whether you need to put in place powers of attorney to enable someone you trust to take care of your financial affairs, to make decisions about your medical treatment, and even to make lifestyle decisions for you, should you be unable for any reason to deal with these matters for yourself.
We identify your superannuation interests, and ensure that these are taken into account when preparing your estate planning documents. Superannuation does not automatically become part of your estate, and positive steps may need to be taken to ensure that your entitlements on your death go to those you wish to benefit.
If you have a self managed superannuation fund, we work with your advisers to make sure that:
- The fund trust deed is updated if required to support the strategy you wish to put in place
- Binding or non-binding death benefit nominations are in place as required
- Pensions are structured appropriately to achieve your objectives
- Entitlements are taken in the most tax-effective manner.
We identify whether there are any family law issues currently affecting you or your family members, or whether any such issues may be on the horizon. Separation and divorce can have a significant impact on the financial affairs of a person who you wish to benefit under your Will, and we ensure that the estate planning work we do with you takes these issues into account.
We can also advise you about how any gifts you make to your beneficiaries during your lifetime, or interests you establish for them under trusts or other structures, would be treated if a property claim were made under the family law, and assist you to put strategies in place to protect those interests.
Any person who considers that you had a responsibility to make provision for them from your estate can, after your death, bring a claim before the Supreme Court if they are not happy with what they receive.
We have substantial experience in bringing and defending such claims, and can assist if you find yourself involved with such a situation.
Importantly, we can discuss with you any aspects of your family circumstances which may ultimately result in claims being made against your estate, and help you to organise your affairs to minimise the prospects of such litigation being brought, or being brought successfully.
If you have been left out of a Will, or have been unfairly provided for in a Will, you may be entitled to make a claim against the estate of the deceased person.