Putting in place a will and an enduring power of attorney is usually a very simple and painless process that simply requires you to meet with your lawyer once to discuss the issues, and to return a few days later to review and sign the completed documents. It is amazing how often clients remark to us how quick and easy the whole process was compared to what they thought would be involved!
Sometimes people’s personal or commercial situation means that some greater consideration has to be given to use of testamentary trusts or other forms of estate planning to protect assets as they move down to the next generation either from creditors of beneficiaries, to create favourable taxation outcomes for beneficiaries or to keep assets outside of your estate to protect them from the risk of your deceased estate being insolvent. Issues requiring focus include asset division between blended families, provision for second or later spouses while still wanting the bulk of your estate to go to your children, protecting inheritances in cases where beneficiaries are at risk because of their own personal or commercial problems.
A properly thought out will can make the administration of your estate a far more simple and streamlined process than it otherwise might be for the family or business partners you leave behind.
The death of a loved one is a time that is difficult enough without the estate administration process being overly complicated. The various entities that process the ownership of assets all have different requirements as to how assets are to be dealt with. Whether they be institutional or self managed superannuation funds, banks, Titles Office, retirement villages or other aged accommodation facilities, shareholdings and insurance companies, they will all have a set of requirements that need to be met before they will release or record change of ownership of assets resulting from death. Often beneficiaries will be placing pressure upon an executor for a speedy release of funds.
Executors have a range of legal duties with which they must comply or they risk incurring personal liability. It is important to seek advice at an early stage to ensure that estates are administered efficiently and effectively and the executor is not left in a position of difficulty and risk of being liable to beneficiaries or creditors for a breach of duty.
Powers of Attorney are very useful devices to allow people to take control over certain aspects of ones affairs.
The most commonly used document for most people is an Enduring Power of Attorney. This gives control over your personal affairs to those named in the document in the even that you lose your capacity to take care of your affairs yourself.
In other circumstances you may wish to grant a General Power of Attorney to someone. You may be going overseas for an extended period of time, or a company may wish to give a power of attorney to an individual so that individual can deal with a limited range of issues themselves.