Christmas and New Year is often a time where we ponder the future. Often financial concerns or plans also linger in our minds.
Estate Planning should be a key part of any arrangements you consider making for your future and the future of your loved ones. The key to strong estate planning is reviewing ownership of assets, who this will transfer to, the structure through which it is done and the taxation impact.
While we all hope that our bequests will be satisfactory to the parties involved, on occasion unhappiness can ensue. It is therefore also important that you consider not only who will inherit your assets upon death but any family circumstances that exist that may create challenges. Strong estate planning considers equalisation and equity for beneficiaries and recording appropriate instructions.
Unfortunately, many estate disputes have arisen from perceived inequity. Where significant assets are involved, courts are often engaged to settle estate disputes. When disputes arise, they can be resolved via the courts, but be aware of several things that occur when wills are contested.
- Rules vary between each of the States;
- It delays distribution of the estate;
- The costs are borne by the estate; and
- It can contribute to family conflict.
There are some practical ways that you can help to avoid contests:
- Consider all potential beneficiaries and claimants;
- Use structures that do not fall into the estate e.g. a discretionary trust; and
- Use investments which allow direct beneficiary nominations e.g. superannuation.
When you consider both the financial and social costs of dispute resolution it is worth the effort to sit-down and think clearly about your future plans and wishes. This isn’t something to rush through. The holiday period is a great time for planning as many of us have a clearer mind, time, and we are surrounded by family with whom to discuss potential issues.
Once you have formulated an idea of what you want to bequeath, it is essential that you then seek advice on how best to exercise fairness and equity. This will help you minimise cost and maintain family harmony now and in the future.
Call us on 07 3833 3999 to discuss structuring your estate appropriately.