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Estate Planning in 2021 – why now is a better time than ever

By March 2, 2021 No Comments

Over the past year a there has been a surge in clients attending our offices to have their Wills prepared. With so much changing in the world it is easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious about what the future holds. What may come of your future is uncertain, but in the event of the worst happening, one thing you can control is what will happen with your possessions and the security of your family.

One question which has been asked more than most is ‘at what age is it necessary to get a Will drafted?’. The short answer is, there is no exact age you should start considering if you need a Will, it is completely dependent on your situation and whenever each individual believes its necessary. So, to answer your questions briefly;

Drafting an Estate Plan is not;

  • A waste of money
  • Something that is only necessary when you have children
  • An overreaction after the year that was 2020

Drafting an Estate Plan is;

  • Necessary and relatively simple
  • Affordable when done in a timely manner with compassionate lawyers
  • Comfort in knowing that there is a plan in place for your family

There are three recommended documents that comprise an effective estate plan. Each of these documents are recommended to serve their own individual purpose of protecting your assets, family, and self, should you no longer have the legal capacity to do so.

 

Will

‘Why do I need a Will? Wouldn’t those close to me understand how I would have wanted my estate to be distributed?’

A Will is designed to give you reassurance that your assets will be distributed in direct correlation with your individual wishes, not your friends/families and not the states. Should something happen to you without a Will, the law is allowed then to dictate how your estate should be dispersed after the payment of your debts. Another complication which may arise should you not have a written Will, is the added expenses (tax, legal fees etc.) your beneficiaries may be forced to spend to settle your affairs after you are gone.

The key components to consider when drafting your Will are;

The Executors

Who do you trust to be in control of your estate and manage your funds?

The Guardians

In the event that at the time of your death you have children, whether they are yours or others you are responsible for, under the age of 18, who would trust in making parenting decisions for them? You may list one individual or multiple Guardians as the case may be.

The Distribution of Your Estate

How would you like your estate (inclusive of all of your property and possessions) to be distributed? This is typically divided into a ‘gifts’ and ‘residuary estate’.

In the gifts section of your Will, you are given the ability to give specific possessions that form your estate to specific beneficiaries. Whether it is your jewellery, your car, or your family pet, you may gift any component of your estate at your discretion. Your residuary estate is made up of all the funds and possessions that are left after the gifts have been distributed.

‘But even if I have a Will, it can still be disputed can’t it?’

Yes, its true that Wills can vary in their effectiveness, depending on the level of detail that is included and whether someone challenges it, but if you allow us to help you we will ensure we include as much detail as possible to secure your estates future.

 

Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) & Enduring Power of Guardianship (EPG)

An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) is a legal document that allows for an individual to enable a trusted person to act on their behalf in relation to their financial situation/circumstance should they no longer have full legal capacity. Full legal capacity means that the individual is able to understand the effect and nature of any document they are signing.

An Enduring Power of Guardianship (EPG) is a legal document that allows for an individual to appoint someone to make medical, personal and lifestyle decisions when they no longer have capacity to give instructions or communicate their best wishes for themselves. These decisions include however are not limited to; healthcare, living arrangements, care for underage children etc.

‘Who should I choose as an Attorney/Guardian?’

It is completely up to you who you choose as your Attorney or Guardian. It is important you choose someone who you believe will act on your best interest and is willing to take responsibility. Most people choose either a spouse, a sibling, or a close friend.

 

Your estate plan is an important part of protecting your assets and ensuring there is a plan in place for your family which can accommodate for all scenarios in the years ahead.

Should you wish to book in to see our lawyers and begin drafting your estate plan, or have any further questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact our offices via email or telephone.

Author: Kym Barrett-Lennard