Wills and Estates Lawyers Hobart

Good estate planning requires several steps. Even those with ‘simple’ family structures and modest assets should consider a range of matters to determine how their assets are distributed after death, and how their legal, financial and health affairs are managed if they are incapacitated.

Good estate planning should consider:

  • Preparing for the inevitable – having a valid Will to appoint an executor and to determine who receives your assets when you die.
  • Planning for the unforeseen – ensuring powers of attorney and appointments of enduring guardian are in place so your legal, financial and health affairs can be dealt with appropriately if you become ill, disabled, or incapacitated.
  • Ensuring your estate maintains value – distributing your assets in the most tax-effective manner.
  • Protecting vulnerable or ‘at-risk’ beneficiaries by creating testamentary trusts.
  • Succession planning – ensuring appropriate arrangements are in place for business and company interests.
  • The potential for a claim to be made on your estate – understanding family provision claims and implementing strategies to help minimise such claims.

Preparing a Will

Regardless of the size of your asset pool it is important to have a valid Will. If you die without a Will you will be said to have died ‘intestate’. If this occurs your assets will be distributed according to the relevant law in your State or Territory. This will of course be outside your control and may mean that your assets are not distributed in the way that you would have liked.

Having a Will gives you peace of mind that you have made your wishes clear as to how you want your assets to be divided and administered.

It is sensible to review your Will periodically, particularly when your personal and financial circumstances change. Important life events such as marriage, divorce, the birth of children or financial changes, like receiving an inheritance or buying a property, are relevant milestones and should trigger a review and possible update of your Will.

While in theory you are able to leave your estate to whomever you like, it is very important to seek legal advice on this point to avoid the potential for a family provision claim to be made on your estate after you die. In situations involving blended families or estranged children, consideration should be given to the impact of leaving individuals out of a Will and whether this is likely to lead to a costly legal dispute.

Choosing an executor for your estate is a central part of estate planning

An executor’s responsibilities range from organising your funeral through to collecting any debts owed to the estate, claiming under any available insurance policies, protecting your assets until distribution, obtaining Probate and ensuring that assets are distributed according to the wishes outlined in your Will.

If the Will is disputed, then the executor will be the person responsible for dealing with the dispute including giving instructions to legal representatives in the event of litigation being commenced.

Important matters to consider when choosing an executor include:

  • Who you would like to appoint to manage your estate, and whether that person is willing to accept the role of executor.
  • Is the person you are thinking of suitable for the role and will they have the time needed to carry out the duties involved?
  • Is the person you are thinking of likely to outlive you?
  • Whether you would like to appoint one or more executors. You may consider appointing an alternate executor as a backup in case your first choice is unable to act in the role or, alternatively, appointing joint executors (two people) to fulfil the role, which may be more suitable.
  • Will the person you appoint have the confidence and experience needed to deal with your assets in the way you would like? This question is especially important if you foresee a potential dispute over your estate. The executor needs to be able to act impartially.
  • Whether it is preferable to appoint a ‘neutral’ executor such as a solicitor or other professional.

What is Probate?

An executor may need to apply for a grant of Probate through the Court before administering an estate. The granting of Probate ‘proves’ the Will of the deceased and authorises the executor to deal with the assets. The requirement to obtain probate usually depends on the size of the estate, the nature of estate assets and how they are hold. Most financial institutions will require a grant of probate to release funds over a specified amount. Probate is also generally required to transfer real estate that is not jointly held.

Once granted, the estate assets vest in the executor and he or she may deal with the assets and commence administering the estate in accordance with the Will.

Proactively planning for unforeseen and inevitable events makes good sense and can save many hours of heartache for friends and family. Estate planning can also help to ensure that the assets you have spent a lifetime accumulating are not eaten up by costly legal disputes which could occur simply because no direction has been left as to how you wish your estate to be divided. Our wills and estates lawyers in Hobart have significant experience in estate planning and can assist you in this area of law.

Contact our Wills and Estates Lawyers in Hobart

If you need any assistance, contact [email protected] or call our law firm on 03 6223 3344 for a no-obligation discussion and for expert legal advice.