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Feeling confused and a bit intimidated by the prospect of estate planning?  That’s understandable as good estate planning can be complex. 

But then so is brain surgery, but if you or a client needed it you wouldn’t refuse to do it just because it was complex.  Good estate planning is vital and is required by just about anyone who has been in the workforce for a few years.  For example, superannuation is not part of an estate but you can still control what happens to it after death.

What is estate planning?

Simply, it is the strategies, processes and actions you take to preserve your capital for yourself, your family and your successors and to ensure that your estate is administered and distributed to the maximum benefit of your loved ones.

The paradoxical thing about estate planning is that although you arrange it, you won’t benefit from it and indeed you won’t ever know if it was successful.  Estate planning is for your family, for your loved ones, for those closest to you.  That’s probably why everyone should focus on it sooner rather than later.

At Townsends Lawyers we take the mystique out of estate planning so that everyone can understand how it benefits them and their family. It takes a little time and requires a little focus, but good estate planning brings rewards many times over in tax saving, asset protection and the peace of mind that comes from knowing families will be well looked after.

Do I need an estate plan?

Appointment of enduring guardian

When you appoint an Enduring Guardian you are designating someone to look after your residential and health care issues if you are not able to.

Enduring power of attorney

A power of attorney is a document which appoints a person to act on an individual‘s behalf in relation to the appointor’s property and financial affairs.

Family Provision Claims - Contesting a Will in New South Wales

In Australia, testamentary freedom (being able to give your estate to anyone under your Will) is balanced by laws that allow Courts to use their discretion and ensure that eligible persons are adequately provided for from the proceeds of the estate.

There are a number of ways that a Will can be challanged. Besides challenging the validity of a Will, in NSW, certain persons, categorised as eligible persons under the Succession Act 2006, can make what is called a Family Provision Claim if they have been left without adequate provision from a Deceased estate.

Living will/advanced health care directive

A so-called "Living Will", "Medical Direction", "Advanced Health Care Directive" or similar document by whatever name is a voluntary statement outlining the types and conditions of medical care that the person would prefer in a given situation prior to requiring that care. A person can also nominate one or a number of substitute decision-makers to make decisions on their own behalf.

Memorandum of wishes

By using this document you provide private detailed advice on how you want your Executor to administer your estate. These are a must-have if you have a complex estate or a family trust that you currently control.

Superannuation death benefit nominations

What you put in your superannuation death benefit nomination must be carefully considered as part of your estate plan. It should not be an automatic ‘form-filling’ process.

Wills

There is much more to estate planning than just a Will but it is perhaps the central document.