Estate Planning: why it’s important to review and have the right documents in place
What is an estate plan?
An estate plan includes:
- your will and other documents (such as trust deeds and binding nominations for superannuation) which direct how your assets will be distributed after your death;
- documents which direct how your affairs should be dealt with if you are unable to make your own decisions (such as a power of attorney for financial and legal affairs and an advance care directive for medical decisions and living arrangements).
A good estate plan will:
- ensure you are properly cared for in accordance with your wishes;
- protect your assets and ensure they are distributed to the right people;
- make it easy for those responsible for your affairs to manage and follow them;
- minimise fees, commissions and taxes; and
- avoid costly disputes.
Do I need to have an estate plan?
Yes – unless, you are:
- single (never married or not in a serious relationship); and
- childless; and
- have no assets; and
- happy to leave decisions about your affairs to others.
Without the right documents in place, the process for administering your affairs and estate is usually more expensive and complicated. For instance, if you do not have a valid will, “Letters of Administration” rather than “Probate” (the process where a Court approves a will) need to obtained. Letters of Administration can be more complicated and expensive than Probate. Most importantly, without the right documents in place, your estate might be distributed to people you wouldn’t have otherwise chosen.
Likewise, if you do not have a power of attorney, a tribunal will need to decide who should be appointed to make decisions on your behalf.
When should I review my estate plan?
You should have your estate plan reviewed if your personal or financial circumstances change significantly, for instance:
- getting married;
- the birth of a child;
- acquiring a significant asset (i.e. real estate or inheritance);
- divorce or separation from a serious relationship;
- starting a new business; or
How PGC Legal can help
PGC Legal can assist with all stages of estate planning through to the administration of estates.
We can assist you by providing customised advice about your estate planning and asset protection issues and can prepare tailored documents depending on your circumstances.
We are experienced in the administration of estates and dealing with the Probate Registry and the Supreme Court of South Australia. We also can provide advice and prepare all necessary documentation to assist with the administering of instructions in a will.