Wills & Estate Planning

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Wills – Who Needs One?
By creating a Will, you are effectively ensuring your loved ones are provided for in the event of your death.  If you die without a will (known as dying ‘intestate’) the courts will decide how your assets are distributed (often by standard formulas based on familial relationship) and potentially create additional costs, delays, and headaches for your heirs.

 

Taking the time to write out your intentions saves trouble for everyone down the line, and in our opinion – everyone over the age of 18 years should have a Will.

 

What if you change your mind?
You may amend your will at any time. It’s recommended to review your will periodically to ensure it still is applicable to your financial and familial situation. At the same time, you’ll want to review your beneficiary designations for your retirement, pension, and insurance policies as those are automatically transferred.

 

Lang Hemming and Hall’s full range of Wills and Estate Planning services include:

  • Wills and Powers of Attorney
  • Testamentary Trusts
  • Disputed Estates
  • Contesting a Will
  • Estate Administration

Estate Planning Services

While rarely considered a ‘fun’ process, estate planning is essential regardless of your net worth for piece of mind in knowing your assets will be distributed according to your desires.

 

A full estate plan typically includes a will, assignment of Power of Attorney, and a living will/health care proxy (medical power of attorney). Family trusts may also be appropriate in some circumstances.

 

Your first step in estate planning should be to take inventory of your assets. This includes your investments, retirement savings, insurance policies, and real estate and/or business interests. Then ask yourself: Who do you want to inherit these assets? Who do you want handling your financial affairs when you are unable to do so? Who do you want making medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself?

 

It is also critical to discuss your plans with your heirs as well as other family members who may question your decisions. It is better to avoid surprises or any challenges to your will which will hamper your wishes being carried out.

Wills & Estate Planning FAQs

Notary Public Services

A notary public is a public official who has been appointed with the authority to provide services in relation to certain non-contentious concerns such as estates, deeds, powers-of-attorney, and international business. A notary might administer oaths, take affidavits, prepare, witness, and authenticate the execution of certain documents, and prepare ship’s protests in cases of damage. Commercial or personal documents that either originate from or are signed in another country generally must be notarized to be officially recorded and take legal effect. A notary must remain impartial in these matters as his duty is to the transaction itself and not just to one party.

Notary services include:

  1. Attestation of documents and certification of their due execution for use in Australia and internationally
  2. Preparation and certification of powers of attorney, wills, deeds, contracts and other legal documents for use in Australia and internationally
  3. Administering of oaths for use in Australia and internationally
  4. Witnessing affidavits, statutory declarations and other documents for use in Australia and internationally
  5. Certification of copy documents for use Australia and internationally
  6. Exemplification of official documents for use internationally
  7. Noting and protesting of bills of exchange
  8. Preparation of ships’ protests
  9. Providing certificates as to Australian law and legal practice
Trusts

Trusts are legal mechanisms that follow pre-set conditions (as designated by you) on when and how your assets will be distributed upon your death. Using a trust gives you the control the timing and method of distribution of assets, but also can save you in taxes, reduce liability to creditors, and avoid the necessity of probate court (the body that administers wills).

A testamentary trust goes into effect upon your death with the express purpose of allocated your assets to your desinated beneficiaries. A trust is no substitute for a will, a trust should only be used in conjuction with a will as part of an overall estate planning strategy developed in working with one’s solictor.

Trusts are not just for the wealthy! You may benefit from establishing a trust if:

  • You have considerable assets in real estate, a business, or an art collection
  • You wish to leave your estate to your heirs wuch that that is not directly or immediately payable to them upon your death. You may want to distribute in several portions at set time intervals or upon certain live events (such as graduation from university)
  • You want to support a surviving spouse, but upon their death, you want a portion of your estate to go to other chosen heirs such as children from a first marriage
  • You and your spouse want to maximize your estate-tax exemptions

Some possible advantages to using a trust:

  • The abililty to set your own conditions on how and when your assets are distributed after you die including timing of payments to your heirs
  • Reduction in estate and gift taxes
  • Ability to distribute assets to heirs efficiently without the cost, delay, and publicity of probate court
  • Protection of your assets from creditors and lawsuits
Wills & Estate Planning

Wills
Simply put, everyone who is an adult needs a will. If you die without a will (known as dying ‘intestate’) the courts will decide how your assets are distributed (often by standard formulas based on familial relationship) and potentially create additional costs, delays, and headaches for your heirs. Taking the time to write out your intentions saves trouble for everyone down the line.

Formalising your wishes in a will makes your desires ‘official’ so there is a known record as authorised and signed by you. It’s also critical for those with small children to name guardians by way of a will or this too will be decided by a court. A will also allows you to leave a portion of your assets to charitable institutions. While the basics of deciding how to allocate your assets may be simple (such as leaving everything to one family member), a properly trained solicitor should be involved as well to ensure that your will hold up if challenged in court.

What if you change your mind? You may amend your will at any time. It’s recommended to review your will periodically to ensure it still is applicable to your financial and familial situation. At the same time, you’ll want to review your beneficiary designations for your retirement, pension, and insurance policies as those are automatically transferred.

While rarely considered a ‘fun’ process, estate planning is essential regardless of your net worth for piece of mind in knowing your assets will be distributed according to your desires. Planning ahead and recording your wishes will additionally reduce administrative costs and headaches for your family. A full estate plan typically includes a will, assignment of power of attorney, and a living will/health care proxy (medical power of attorney). Family trusts may also be appropriate in some circumstances.

Estate Planning
Your first step in estate planning should be to take inventory of your assets. This includes your investments, retirement savings, insurance policies, and real estate and/or business interests. Then ask yourself: Who do you want to inherit these assets? Who do you want handling your financial affairs when you are unable to do so? Who do you want making medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself?

It is also critical to discuss your plans with your heirs as well as other family members who may question your decisions. It is better to avoid surprises or any challenges to your will which will hamper your wishes being carried out.

Contact Us

To further discuss your legal matters, or arrange a time to meet with us, please email info@lawstore.com.au or contact us. We look forward to being of service.

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