At Clairs Keeley Lawyers, our team of experienced estate planning lawyers in Perth can help you put together an effective estate plan. We can help you with the drafting of a will, challenging of a will, provide advice regarding testamentary trusts and wills, and more. Below are some frequently asked questions our lawyers often get asked, which may be able to answer any queries you have regarding wills and estate planning.
Why do I need a will and estate plan?
A will provides peace of mind that your wishes will be effected after you die. A will can also reduce potential conflicts between your family and friends regarding the administration and distribution of your estate. An effective estate plan considers all the assets and liabilities you control regardless of whether you hold the asset or liability in your personal capacity, in a family trust or self-managed super fund. It also ensures control of those assets are left with the people you choose and trust.
Estate planning looks at your family situation which may be blended or may involve estranged children. It will consider the tax consequences of your legacies and also consider who will manage your assets and make decisions about your lifestyle if you lose capacity to make those decisions for yourself.
What happens if I don’t have a will?
If you die without a will, the Administration Act 1903 (WA) determines who can apply to be administrator of your estate and who will receive your estate. This may result in a family member administering your estate that you do not trust and unwanted family members receiving your assets. Not only do you lose all the decision making about your estate after you die, but you also make the administrative process of dealing with your estate more difficult for your loved ones.
Can I use a post office will kit?
Post office wills or DIY wills can be problematic. At Clairs Keeley Lawyers, we have assisted many executors seeking our help with a post office will or DIY will because the will is unclear as to how the estate is to be distributed. Other common problems we see are failed gifts because the asset has been sold or the beneficiary has died. It is also common to see the failure of the basic formalities required by the Wills Act 1970 (WA). Our estate planning solicitors will ensure your appointed executor will not have to deal with the common problems encountered with post office and DIY wills.
What do I include in my will?
You should appoint a trustworthy executor in your will and a suitable substitute in the event that your chosen executor dies before you or is unable to take the role. You can appoint more than one executor and more than one substitute. If you have children under the age of 18, you should think about who you would like to act as guardian of your children. The children don’t have to live with the guardian, but the guardian will make all the major decisions about the children’s welfare and upbringing such as where they live, what school they attend and what religion they follow.
Your will should include the beneficiaries of your estate, and if there is more than one beneficiary, what proportions are available. You can leave specific gifts of jewellery, antiques or artwork to specific people. Our Clairs Keeley estate planning solicitors will tailor your will for your individual situation and ensure your wishes are drafted in a clear and concise manner, leaving your executor with clear instructions in relation to your estate.
What else do you recommend I include in my estate plan?
In addition to your will, it’s important to consider who should manage your financial affairs and care should you lose the capacity to make those decisions for yourself. An enduring power of attorney allows you to nominate someone you trust to make decisions about your financial affairs. On the other hand, an Enduring Power of Guardianship allows you to nominate someone you trust to make decisions regarding your lifestyle and medical treatment. These documents provide peace of mind that someone you trust will make those decisions for you if you lose the capacity to be able to make those decisions yourself.
We also frequently draft other estate planning documents such as binding death benefit nominations for self-managed superannuation funds and deeds of appointment for family trusts. This is done to ensure control of assets are passed to the right people. We can also draft advanced health directives, providing your directions in relation to medical treatment.
My partner and I both want to leave our estate to children from our previous relationships. How do we arrange this?
Our estate planning solicitors assist a variety of blended families by utilising a range of legal techniques to tailor the estate plan for their individual family situation. A common scenario is providing estate planning to a couple with one or both having children from a previous relationship. The couple have the dilemma of wanting to provide for the survivor of them but also want their children from their previous relationship to be provided for.
Post office wills or DIY wills are not appropriate in blended family situations. By engaging with one of our experienced estate planning solicitors, you can greatly reduce potential family conflict following your death in a blended family situation. Our estate planning solicitors can tailor an estate plan to ensure your partner is provided for during their lifetime, but your estate will ultimately pass to your children following your spouse’s death in the proportions you wish.
If you have any queries about wills or estate planning that we may not have answered on this page, our team of friendly lawyers in Perth are here to help. For professional legal advice regarding wills and estate planning, contact our team at Clairs Keeley Lawyers today.