A well considered estate plan is central to ensure the loves you love are protected in the event of your death. We can collaborate with your solicitor and accountant to ensure your estate is distributed in accordance with your wishes in an efficient and tax effective manner.
Your Estate Plan should start with a Will
It is important to have a Will and review it regularly to ensure it reflects your intentions, because if you do not, your assets may be distributed in a way that is contrary to your intentions. It can also result in delays in the administration of your estate, and additional inconvenience and uncertainty for your beneficiaries.
It is important to be aware your will is unlikely to determine the distribution of all of your assets, and that it must be considered in the context of a broader estate plan. For example, superannuation assets, jointly held assets, benefits from life insurance policies, and assets owned by a trust such as a family discretionary trust, are often distributed without consulting your Will.
What if my spouse or I die without a Will?
Dying without a Will or an invalid Will is known as dying intestate. In such an event, laws are in place in each State to determine how your estate will be administered. In Queensland, the legislation provides a specific order of distribution of an intestate estate’s assets, depending on the situation:
- Spouse and issue (generally a child) . A spouse of an intestate is a person who was either married to the intestate immediately before the intestate’s death, or a de facto partner of the deceased. If there is only one surviving spouse and no issue, the spouse is entitled to the whole of the estate. If there is one surviving spouse and only one surviving child of the intestate, the spouse is entitled to the household chattels and the first $150,000. Any amount over $150,000 is divided equally between the spouse and the child. If there is only one surviving spouse and two or more children of the intestate, the spouse receives the household chattels and the first $150,000. Any amount over $150,000 is divided: − 1/3 for the spouse − remaining 2/3 divided equally between the surviving children.
- Issue, but no spouse. The issue is entitled to the whole of the estate. If all the issue survived, they are entitled to the estate in equal shares. For those who did not survive, their share is taken by their surviving issue (children, etc.)
- If no spouse or issue, then assets are distributed in the following order: − parents in equal shares, or to a surviving parent − surviving brothers and sisters (including half-brothers and half-sisters) in equal shares (or nieces or nephews of deceased siblings of the intestate) − grandparents in equal shares, or surviving grandparent
Death benefit nominations
A non binding death benefit nomination is used only as a guide by the trustee when deciding who should receive your death benefit.
A binding death benefit nomination allows you to nominate who will receive your superannuation benefits in the event of your death and ensures the trustee is legally bound by your wishes. The nomination is able to be amended or cancelled at any time and is required to be renewed every three years.
A non-lapsing death benefit nomination is a binding death benefit nomination that does not lapse. Unlike binding death benefit nominations which lapse if not renewed at least every three years, a non-lapsing nomination will remain in force until such time it is amended or revoked by the client.
Power of Attorney
Granting a Power of Attorney means you legally appoint a person or an organisation to make decisions, sign documents and act on your behalf in various matters. When you grant a Power of Attorney you may choose to limit the actions which the attorney can perform on your behalf (Limited Power of Attorney) or give the attorney wide powers to undertake actions on your behalf (General Power of Attorney).
One of the limitations of a Power of Attorney is it generally ceases when the person suffers a loss of mental capacity. This can be overcome with the use of an Enduring Power of Attorney. This type of Power of Attorney does not cease on mental incapacity and can therefore provide an important tool in estate planning.