Do I Need an Estate Plan If I Have a Will?
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Often when we think of the term ‘Estate Planning’, we think of wealthy people with a long list of properties and expensive belongings. At Cairns Wills and Estate Lawyers we find that this is not the reality at all – this sort of planning is something that everyone should consider and our clients come from all walks of life. It’s all about preparation and minimising the hassle and risk for our nearest and dearest.
In modern life, there are several things that will affect your plan. Sometimes just having a Will is not enough to ensure that your assets are passed on correctly to your chosen ones. An excellent place to start is to identify your estate assets and non-estate assets.
These are assets that are held in your own name, for example, houses, vehicles, bank accounts or shares. These are handled according to your Will.
These are assets that are not handled according to your Will and may include:
- Assets owned by your self-managed superannuation fund
- Assets owned by your family discretionary trust
- Assets owned as joint tenants
Your plan can be drafted so that your chosen ones have control of non-estate assets.
Property owned as joint tenants
As joint tenants, if one party passes, the home will then become wholly owned by the remaining tenant (right of survivorship). The property is not included in the estate. If you prefer for this not to apply, you will need to consider severing the joint tenancy and/or look at alternative ownership structures.
This is not typically included in your estate and will not be handled as part of your Will. If there is no plan, the superannuation fund will be distributed according to the decisions of the appointed trustee. A well-crafted plan may include a binding death benefit nomination instructing your superannuation provider to pay any benefits to a specific individual or to your estate.
Discretionary family trust
Assets that are owned as part of a trust will not be included in the estate plan as it is a separate legal entity. If there is no plan in place for your death, there can’t be a guarantee that the assets held by the trust will be passed to your chosen loved ones. However, you can take steps to arrange for control of the relevant assets to be transferred to a named person.
If you are unsure about assets held in a trust, now is the time to seek expert legal advice on the matter. Your Cairns lawyers can help you incorporate the transfer into a plan and review the relevant paperwork.
It is likely that you have a life insurance policy, but it is essential to understand how it has been set up. If you have nominated a person/people as beneficiaries, the insurance company must pay them directly. This money will not be included in the estate.
By establishing a sound plan, you will cover all the important areas of life. Experienced lawyers can advise you on all the relevant matters regarding the law and help you draft the plan that is right for you.
Cairns Wills and Estate Lawyers have been assisting clients with all aspects of Wills and Estate law for over twenty years.
We are part of Preston Law, Far North Queenland’s biggest law firm and we are based locally in Cairns. Contact us today to discuss any matter relating to Wills and Estate law and arrange a no-obligation appointment.