The majority of adult Australians have a valid will, according to the “Having the last word?” report.
The study, completed by researchers at the University of Queensland (UQ), Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Victoria University (VU), examined the estate planning intentions of over 2,700 Australians. Through the survey, it was found that many people did not feel that their most recent will was relevant to their circumstances and wishes. Furthermore, rates of inclusion of enduring powers of attorney and advance directives in end-of-life plans are startlingly low.
So, what’s the big deal about estate planning? Here, we examine what a comprehensive estate plan can mean for your future.
If you want to make sure your wishes are carried out and that it goes to the right people when the time comes, talk to one of our advisers today.
What is an estate plan?
Your estate plan is much more than just a will. It’s a series of documents directing the distribution of your assets following your passing, as well as advising on your wishes in the event of incapacity.
With a thorough estate plan, you can ensure your wealth is passed on to those you love.
Key documents which may be in your estate plan include:
- Your will – This can cover how your assets should be shared, instructions for your funeral, who will look after your children and more.
- Testamentary trust – A trust which comes into effect only on your passing. This can protect assets until the beneficiaries are have met certain conditions such as coming of age.
- Powers of attorney – An appointment of authority over your legal and/or financial affairs. These can apply in the case of your absence from the country, following your death or if you become incapable.
- Advance directives – Instructions regarding medical treatment or handling of your body in the case of incapacity.
- Enduring powers of guardianship – This grants a nominated person the rights to make decisions about where you live and other lifestyle choices should you losecapacity to do so yourself.
Why should I have an estate plan?
There are many reasons why you should ensure that you have an up-to-date estate plan, ranging from the benefits to the potential risks of not having one.
The benefits of estate planning:
- Tax efficiency – working with an experienced financial planner to establish your estate plan means that you can minimise tax obligations for your beneficiaries.
- Financial support for your loved ones – a professionally drafted estate plan can ensure your wealth is available to support those most dear to you after your death.
- Peace of mind – with a plan in place, you can rest assured that your wishes will be respected should you lose capacity or pass away.
Grab hold of the steering wheel and guide your estate plan how you see fit.
The consequences of intestacy:
- Probate court – even with a will in place, if provisions to stop your estate from going to probate do not exist, your assets may become tied up in drawn-out court proceedings to ensure all obligations are met.
- Family disputes – there is always the potential that family members may feel they haven’t been adequately provided for in your will. These feelings can lead to arguments, making the wake of your death all the more difficult for your loved ones.
If your estate plan does not effectively dispose of your assets, your death may be considered intestate in the eyes of the court, meaning your wishes may not be met.
If you want to ensure that you’re comfortable with what you’ll leave behind when you pass, Contact us today to talk about building a comprehensive estate plan.