Planning for the future is something that many people put off – particularly when it comes to writing or updating a will. No one likes to think about their demise, no matter how old they are. Many people don’t consider the implications of their short-term decisions on their future, or that of their family should something unexpected happen.
Arranging a will is a good start to help protect the assets and wealth you have built so that they are distributed according to your wishes after your death. An estate plan is a more thorough, yet simple, process which also takes into account your superannuation, appointed persons to manage your financial and medical affairs and assets held solely in your name or jointly with others, or assets held in private companies or trusts.
It is important that you keep your estate plan up to date to reflect your lifestyle and affairs.
Who needs estate planning?
Everyone over the age of 18 years should have an estate plan, particularly a valid will. Whether you have a property or not, estate planning is important as it will document who will take responsibility for your assets, financial affairs and medical care should you die or through illness or accident you are unable to make decisions and communicate your wishes.
If you die without making a will your assets will be distributed according to the law. This could result in a portion of your estate going to children and leaving your spouse incapable of making changes to these affairs in the future, including moving house.
What is the process?
A professionally prepared Estate Plan will ensure that you accomplish all of your objectives, as a qualified lawyer can interpret the maze of laws bearing on property rights, taxes, wills and trusts.
For most people, addressing their estate plan is a simple process beginning with creating an inventory of all their assets and liabilities. From there it is a matter of defining your estate planning objectives and deciding who you want your assets distributed to and in what proportions.
An estate planning lawyer will review your objectives, explain the tools – wills, trusts, powers of attorney etc. – you can use to help you accomplish them and help you think through matters you may not have addressed. They will then draw up the appropriate documents for your signature, based on your objectives.
Bernie Lewis works with Cosoff Cudmore Knox (CCK) who provides our clients with legal advice for matters including estate planning, trust law advice and estate administration. As a result, Bernie Lewis clients will receive a 20 per cent discount in their fee from CCK.
To find out more about estate planning or to arrange an estate plan contact your Bernie Lewis financial adviser. They will arrange for a CCK lawyer to meet with you.