Estate Planning

Estate Planning including Powers of Attorney, Enduring Guardianship and Wills

“ By making hard decisions in good times, you’ll help your loved ones make good decisions in hard times”   Stuart Garrett
 
Planning for your family’s future with assurance means greater ease in dealing with the unexpected.

Few people find it easy to deal with bereavement or a family member’s unexpected loss of capacity. These life stages are challenging enough, without having additional uncertainty and stress about the future, for the level of care that’s needed and financial arrangements.

It’s much easier to take the time now, when you have a clearer mind, to put in place proper arrangements for care of loved ones, and for planning Estates and family inheritances. This will save untold stress and money. And your inheritance will be less likely to end up in the taxman’s pocket.

We strongly recommend you also establish plans for any unexpected incapacity through Power of Attorney and Guardianship documentation.

This will ensure that if you (or your loved ones) become unable to make decisions about finances, medical treatment or living arrangements, then your appointees can make these decisions unhindered and in line with what you’d like to see happen.

Stuart Garrett is an Estate Planning specialist. He chaired a NFP Aged Care facility when it won international and national awards, which gave him detailed knowledge about Aged Care needs and issues. This on-the-ground expertise uniquely helps him find practical solutions in Estate, inheritance and succession planning for you.

Contact Stuart Garrett Lawyers today to make an appointment about your family’s secure future.

 

Our experienced services include:

 

  • Advising you in on Estate and Probate laws
  • Writing a Will which maximises a secure inheritance for your family
  • Setting up family and testamentary trusts
  • Advising you in regard to choosing executors and guardians
  • Minimising the chance that your Will might be contested and subject to litigation
  • Advising in regard to Estate tax (including capital gains) and financial issues
  • Advising you in how your Estate is to be divided and noting whether particular interests are to be created and designed to protect both your assets and the beneficiaries
  • Safely storing your Will, Power of Attorney, Appointment of Enduring Guardian and other important legal documents

 

A. Wills

Writing a Will is an important part of life’s planning processes. It gives clarity, prevents stress at a difficult time and importantly, protects valuable assets.

Estate planning enables the proper arrangement and passing on of assets to appropriate parties and eliminates many uncertainties over administration.

Did you know that without proper planning, the value of assets could be dramatically impacted by taxation and other expenses?

Good planning starts with a Will, which comes into play after your death. Given that during your life your circumstances and wishes often change, it’s important that your Will is regularly reviewed.

Your Will covers:

  • Funeral and related directions
  • Who administers your Estate and how it is done
  • What bequests or gifts you wish to make
  • Who is to occupy or deal with your home
  • How your estate is to be divided and when
  • Whether particular interests are to be created that are designed to protect both your assets and the beneficiaries

 

B. Testamentary Trusts

A Testamentary Trust is created to address any Estate accumulated during a person’s lifetime or generated as a result of the death itself, such as a settlement in a wrongful-death suit, or the proceeds from a life insurance policy held on the settlor.

A Trust can be created to oversee such assets. A Trustee is appointed to direct the Trust until a set time when the Trust expires, such as when minor beneficiaries reach a specified age or accomplish a deed such as completing an educational goal or achieving a specified matrimonial status.

In practical terms, Testamentary Trusts tend to be driven more by the needs of the beneficiaries (particularly infant beneficiaries).

  • A Testamentary Trust provides a way for assets devolving to minor children to be protected until the children are capable of fending for themselves
  • A Testamentary Trust has low upfront costs, usually only the cost of preparing the Will in such a way as to address the Trust, and the fees involved in dealing with the judicial system during Probate.

For individuals with high marginal tax rates a Testamentary Trust can ‘restart’ the tax calculation. A Testamentary Trust allows income from the Trust to be taxed as a separate entity (a Trust) rather than simply adding the earning/income to the owners income.

 

C. Powers of Attorney and agency arrangements

A Power of Attorney is appointed by you to make financial decisions on your behalf in the event that you lose capacity or are unable to attend to your affairs.  This could include selling your house or operating your bank accounts.

You can appoint anyone over the age of 18 years who has the capacity to understand the nature and consequences of the appointment.  Obviously it will be someone or a combination of people who you trust to manage your financial affairs.

You can choose when you want it to start and whether there are conditions attached to its operation, for example, your treating doctors certifying that you have lost capacity.

You can appoint more than one person if you wish, and you can specify exactly how they make their decisions – jointly or separately.  Make sure that the persons you appoint have the necessary skills collectively to deal with your finances.

Ideally you should have a Power of Attorney before you actually need it.  It safeguards your interests in the event of something unforeseen happening – an accident or illness that robs you of your capacity to make decisions for yourself.

It is better to be prepared and confident in knowing that the person or persons you choose will be making important decisions about your financial affairs in the event you lose capacity or are unable to attend to them yourself.

Your Attorney/s are legally responsible to you and must act in your best interests.  They must keep their finances separate from yours and keep accurate records of all their dealings with your money.
 

D. Enduring Guardianship

This appointment covers decisions about your health care, lifestyle and accommodation, should you lose capacity to care for yourself.

It is really important that you discuss these documents with a good lawyer who can give you professional advice about your particular circumstances.  It is also vital that you discuss your wishes with your family to avoid conflict and stress.

Like the Power of Attorney, this document only comes into play if or when you lose capacity.

  • You can appoint anyone (other than your paid professional carers) who you trust to deal with the issues – there can be more than one appointee
  • They must act in your best interests and follow any directions contained in the appointment and
  • They must accept and acknowledge their appointment.

You should review these documents regularly and particularly if there is a significant change in your circumstances or those of your appointees

Both Powers of Attorney and Appointment of Enduring Guardian documents can be reviewed externally if problems arise during their operation.

Because this is such a sensitive area, it’s important to get sound professional advice and Stuart Garrett Lawyers are not only experienced specialists in this area, their level of genuine care for their clients gives comforting assurance.