Estate Planning & Wills

Part of Sydney Estate Planning Lawyers’ core business is advising on estate planning issues and preparing wills, powers of attorney and guardianship appointments.

In documenting your plan for what is to happen with your assets when you die, primarily through your will, you need to be made aware of and resolve the often complex issues that can arise. Our experience and expertise empowers us to do this for you so that you have certainty of outcome and you know your objectives will be achieved in a tax effective way.

Some of the risk issues to consider when you make your will are:

  • What if my surviving spouse changes their will after I die and gives assets to someone other than our children or intended beneficiary?
  • What happens if my surviving spouse’s new relationship or a relationship of another beneficiary breaks down? Will the assets I give them be exposed in a division of property as a result of the break down of that relationship?
  • What happens if my surviving spouse enters a new relationship and their new spouse challenges my surviving spouse’s will? That could also happen to any beneficiary under the will. Will the assets I leave my spouse or that beneficiary be exposed?
  • Can I protect my assets against an intended beneficiary’s bankruptcy?
  • Is a beneficiary suffering from a disability or is the beneficiary a spend thrift?
  • What if a beneficiary develops mental illness or a drug, alcohol or gambling problem?

We have many years of experience in dealing with these issues and the ways in which you can protect against them through your will.

Did you know that a properly structured will can permit your beneficiaries to save tax on the income earned from the investment of the gift? Unless the will is set up properly, the important and legitimate concession that permits tax to be saved cannot be used by your beneficiaries. A typically standard husband and wife will does not do this for you. Not only should you not die without a will, dying without a tax effective will can severely disadvantage your beneficiaries.

We are able to provide advice to you about the way in which your assets should be owned and your life insurance structured to give you the greatest opportunity to take advantage of this tax concession. Unless you prepare now to permit these things to happen when you die, the opportunity will be lost.

We regularly advise clients about the difficulties relating to asset ownership by superannuation funds, family companies and trusts.

You should not think that your superannuation death benefits automatically form part of your estate and pass with your other assets under your will. They don’t. Unless the correct arrangements are in place, not only may your superannuation benefits not go where you want them to go when you die, but more tax than is necessary may be payable.

If a company holds assets, you will need to consider how to pass control of the company when you die. Normally this can be done in the way you want, but care may be required, particularly where you don’t intend to leave all beneficiaries in equal control of the company.

Assets held in discretionary trusts pose special problems, because with a trust, there are no assets of yours to give under your will. Therefore, you must pass control of the trust in the manner required to achieve the outcome you want. When the founder of the trust dies, managing how a trust is controlled is the most important thing. This can ensure that an intended beneficiary of the trust is not disadvantaged after the founder’s death. We have developed control structures to ensure that the required outcome is achieved.

If you would like any assistance with your estate planning needs, your will or power of attorney preparation, please contact Damian Scroope at Sydney Estate Planning Lawyers on 8915 4999 or who, as part of our service to you, will meet with you at your place and time of convenience. This offer does not form part of our fixed price estate planning service.