To avoid an unexpected or unwanted result following death, every adult should make a will – and keep it up to date as circumstances change. Although anyone can make his or her own will, this often leads to dispute and litigation that is costly and upsetting to those involved.
In considering the estate planning needs of a client we will not only prepare a will, but also advise that an enduring power of attorney, and sometimes that an appointment of enduring guardians be made as well.
What is required and appropriate will depend on the circumstances of each individual. Matters to consider include the following.
- Assets including jointly held assets, interests in a partnership, trust, business, superannuation (whether in a retail fund or a self managed fund) and life insurance
- The identity of those who might expect to benefit from the estate on death – is there anyone who could expect to benefit, a child or some other dependent, but whom it is wished to exclude?
- Is your family a “blended family” arising out of a second or later marriage or relationship, children from a former relationship of you or your partner?
- Is any intended beneficiary in financial difficulty, a compulsive gambler or drug addict, in a shaky marriage, or in need of special medical support?
- Are you intending to marry a particular person? Unless a will is correctly worded, marrying after the will is made will revoke the will except for gifts in favour of the married partner.
- Divorce will revoke any gift under the will in favour of the former spouse.
To ensure that a will has the intended result, it is important that it be reviewed periodically, and as circumstances change – on marriage, divorce, the birth of children, as children become adults, and marry, on the birth of grandchildren, on a potential beneficiary facing bankruptcy, on divorce or death of a child.
To ensure that your assets and personal wellbeing are properly managed during your life, especially if you become unable to manage them yourself, an enduring power of attorney should be made and in some cases also an appointment of enduring guardians. The choice of attorneys and of guardians must be made with great care and we can assist in the consideration of this.
We will assist in creating an estate plan that takes into account these issues and draft documents that are appropriate to the circumstances, including a will that might be a relatively simple document, or it might provide for more sophisticated testamentary trusts, a power of attorney and where appropriate an appointment of enduring guardians.