A will is just one piece of the puzzle that makes up a successful estate plan.
Often , those making a will are keen to ensure their assets are passed on to all their dependants on their death. The “Mum and Dad” type will is quite common- leaving everything first to your partner, but then if that person has died before you, equally to the children.
This reasonably simple arrangement can often suit a situation where there is a modest asset base, no children from previous relationships, and no members of the immediate family that require special treatment.
The fact is though, that modern families are not as simple as they were in days gone by. The ‘Mum, Dad ,three kids, a house, a car and a dog’ model is often replaced by the “ small business owners, two children from a prior marriage, elderly mother in law lives at home with us, our youngest child has special needs ” or any of a myriad of variations on the theme.
Just as modern life is more complex than it was in bygone days, so are the family arrangements that need to be accommodated in considering how to deal with your assets after you are gone.
More and more Wills are being used as just one piece in the toolkit of options that are available to help establish an estate plan which will meet the needs of your family. In a modern estate plan, your estate planning lawyer will look at the full range of options open to get your assets where you want them to go. Powers of Attorney. trusts, binding death benefit nominations, insurance arrangements, and sometimes starting to give it away before you go, are all options to be considered.
The picture becomes even more complex where there are potential beneficiaries that you wish to either exclude from your estate, or where you wish to ensure the assets you leave them are not wasted away.
If there are people you wish to exclude from a share of your estate you need to also make sure none of your assets are domiciled in a state where the concept of ‘notional estates’ can cast a very wide net over assets. The interstate connection can be enough for a disaffected beneficiary to make a claim in that state for assets domiciled there.
“No problem’’ you think? Well – take a look at your superannuation and insurance policies, and note the head office details for any insurance policies, bank accounts or shareholdings you might have. You would be lucky to find that every asset you owned was held solely in Queensland, even if you have lived here your whole life.
If your personal affairs are very straightforward, the Mum and Dad’’ will may be just fine for your circumstances. However, unless you sit down with an experienced estate planning lawyer and talk it through the issues, you will never know if the estate plan you have in place is going to do the job you need it to, when it counts.
For more information, call acs Legal Solutions on +61 7 5546 3244.