Our Wills & Estates specialists will help you navigate the complexities of developing a comprehensive estate plan. This is vital to ensuring that you and your loved ones are properly looked after in the event that you become incapacitated, or in the event of your death.
We use our extensive knowledge and experience in estate planning to explore the best options to secure your assets and protect the interests of your loved ones.
Our estate planning philosophy
We work closely with clients to scout out the best possible solutions and then create a personally-tailored estate plan that provides an optimal blend of tax effectiveness and protection for your assets, with flexibility, so that they can pass smoothly to your intended beneficiaries when the time comes.
Your will is likely to be the primary element of your estate plan, though it is by no means the only element. An estate plan is much more than just a will.
Whether your individual circumstances are relatively simple or very complex, we can assist you in making a will that is suited to your needs and objectives. While a simple will might be sufficient if your circumstances are straightforward, there can be significant advantages to exploring other options, such as testamentary discretionary trusts. Our Wills & Estates team can help you understand the options available and choose the one that is most suitable to you.
Letter of wishes
As part of the estate planning process, you can make a document called a letter of wishes, to guide your executors and beneficiaries in the administration and distribution of your estate.
Unlike your will, a letter of wishes is not a legally binding document. However, it does give you the ability to express wishes or preferences on issues that are important to you, but in relation to which you cannot, or may not wish to, give legally binding directions.
Our Wills & Estates team can assist you in making a letter of wishes.
Enduring power of attorney
Another important element of your estate plan is an enduring power of attorney.
An enduring power of attorney is a document by which you can appoint one or more attorneys to look after your financial and/or personal and health affairs in the event that you lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself, for example, through illness or accident.
Not having an enduring power of attorney can have serious consequences if something happens to you unexpectedly. If you do not have an enduring power of attorney, then if you lose the capacity to look after yourself, it may be necessary for an application to be made to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal for an administrator to be appointed to manage your financial affairs, and a guardian to be appointed to look after your personal and health affairs.
An enduring power of attorney can give both you and your loved ones significant peace of mind. Our Wills & Estates team has significant experience in advising on and preparing enduring powers of attorney. If necessary, our team are also experienced in assisting clients to appear before the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Advance health directive
A further element of your estate plan is an advance health directive.
An advance health directive is a document by which you can give directions about the medical treatment you want to receive if you lose the capacity to make decisions about your health care for yourself. An advance health directive can be used to ensure that medical personnel and your attorneys act in accordance with your wishes with regard to your medical treatment.
This allows you to stay in control of your medical treatment even if you’re unable to communicate your wishes personally.
Binding death benefit nominations
It is important to be aware that your superannuation does not automatically form part of your estate in the event of your death. Rather, the trustee of your superannuation fund has discretion as to how your superannuation is to be distributed. The trustee may determine that your superannuation should be distributed to your dependants – for example, your surviving spouse or children – or to your estate.
A binding death benefit nomination can give you the freedom to choose who your superannuation goes to in the event of your death.
Depending on the terms of the trust deed governing your superannuation fund, you may be able to bind the trustee to distribute your superannuation in a particular way in the event of your death, by making what is called a binding death benefit nomination. Depending on your circumstances, it may be appropriate to implement a binding death benefit nomination so that you can be certain that your superannuation will be distributed in the way you intend.
Our Wills & Estates team can assist you in understanding the implications of making a binding death benefit nomination.
Control of trusts and self-managed superannuation funds
If you have any trusts as part of your asset structure, you will need to consider how they should be managed in the event of your death or loss of capacity, and by whom.
Our Wills & Estates team can help you review the status of trusts and companies, so that you can be in control of who should manage them if and when you are unable to continue to act.
We can also prepare any documents which are required to ensure that the transition of control of the trust can take place in accordance with your wishes.
Control of business interests
If you are engaged in business, it is important that you consider how your interest in that business should be dealt with in the event of your death or incapacity. For example, you should ask yourself whether you would want your family to take over the management of the business if you are unable to continue to run it, or whether you would prefer that the business be sold or wound up.
If you are engaged in business with one or more business partners, it is also important that you consider what should happen to your respective interests in the event that one or more of you die or lose capacity. Depending on the circumstances, it might be prudent to implement an agreement with your business partner/s as to what should occur.
Our Wills & Estates team can help you to explore your options and consider the various implications of your business interests so you can move forward with your business interests with peace of mind.