Estate planning is an important task that requires time, energy and careful thought. Perhaps that’s why many of us are prone to putting this task off. Getting to this sooner rather than later is the best way forward- there’s no time like the present!
We understand that many families are built of complex relationships and assets and planning an estate isn’t the easiest thing to do on your own. There is no substitute for the assistance of qualified, specialised estate planning lawyers but to get the juices flowing, here are 6 tips to get you thinking about the best way to plan your estate.
1. There’s no time like the present
Don’t put off to tomorrow which can be done today!
Putting off your estate planning can seem like the easy way out but this might cause more harm than good. It’s no secret that writing a will and organising one’s estate is a private and daunting task. Don’t let this stop you from getting your job done.
The danger in putting it off is that it might never get done or worse that it is done poorly and in a rush – leaving your family (and most likely) estate litigation lawyers and the Court to divide your assets after you pass away. This can lead to unnecessary stress and damage family relationships.
2. Always start with a plan
When it comes to estate planning, it’s difficult to know where to get started. Do you just start writing a list of who gets what?
Well, as you might have guessed, it’s a bit more complex than that. Mapping out what assets you own and where they are located is always a good place to start. Think beyond the typical items like your car and house – remember that you want to have everything covered -shares, investments, overseas assets and superannuation are all a part of your estate plan.
Trusts and self-managed superannuation can also need special attention.
3. Engage expert lawyers
Drawing up a will and dividing your estate among intended beneficiaries is an essential part of the process, and trying to do this alone isn’t recommended.
If you have a blended family or intend to leave someone out of your estate, you should seek professional legal advice from specialists estate and will lawyers. Specialist estate lawyers are experts in their field and are highly experienced in ensuring a secure and smooth handover of their client’s wealth to the next generation.
Getting this right from the start can save your family significant costs down the line. Disputes over estates can have heavy financial and emotional costs.
4. Every wish counts – so write them down carefully
Writing a comprehensive will may sound like a difficult task, but making sure that every wish counts is essential. It sounds obvious, but after someone passes away, it’s difficult to ask clarifying questions about what they meant in their will.
Nothing should be left open to interpretation – that will only invite conflict and misunderstanding between beneficiaries.
Keep it concise and remember to think carefully about who is receiving what.
5. Think about your tax burden
Taxes are a certainty in life – and you should always plan for them – even in your retirement years. But more importantly, it’s good to think about how to minimise the tax burden your beneficiaries will need to pay upon your death.
There are several strategies you can employ to help protect your estate from excessive taxation including the use of testamentary trusts and superannuation. Expert estate planning lawyers can assist you to direct your assets in the most tax-effective manner possible.
6. Don’t forget about life insurance
Life insurance is an essential consideration. It can be used to make up the difference between assets and liabilities and ensure that there are sufficient funds available to provide for dependents.
A good estate planning lawyer will be able to introduce you to a reputable insurance advisor to help assess your needs.