Wills & Estate Planning
We’ve all heard the saying “if you fail to plan then plan to fail”. Securing the future of your family includes making a will, so you can look after your loved ones after you’re gone and finalise your living documents so your loved ones can look after you while you are alive. Although some regard forward estate planning with superstition, there’s nothing more important than making decisions about how the fruits of your hard work should be dealt with if anything happened to you or who may and to what extent act on your behalf if you are unable to do so for yourself.
You’re not tempting fate, you’re conquering the inevitable, ensuring your legacy is not tied up in potential legal battles. At Thornton Storgato Law, we provide forthright, qualified and insightful direction, empowering our clients to make informed decisions at all stages of will creation and estate planning.
What is a will and why do I need one?
We know making a will can be confronting. Nobody wants to think about leaving this life behind, and while it may feel like you’re inviting ill health by writing one, really what you’re saying to your friends and family is that you care. A will is one of the most important documents you can have drawn up. Things like cars, property, businesses, investments, family heirlooms and savings fall into state hands to be distributed if you don’t make a will. Would you trust a government entity to fairly divvy up your hard earned assets?
What is estate planning?
You don’t need to be wealthy or sitting on top of a bursting property portfolio to work with Thornton Storgato Law on an estate plan. Anybody with a car, a home, savings and bank accounts, furniture and every day possessions has an estate worth considering. While a will is an instruction manual to your final wishes, an estate plan is the process of deciding who gets what, when and how. Putting an estate plan into place now, particularly following a property settlement and divorce, will ensure your family doesn’t have to scramble should the unthinkable happen. Estate plans also cover:
- The naming of any guardians for minors under 18;
- life insurance specifics, including income plans if you’re incapacitated and longer able to work;
- the transfer of your business and investments should you retire, become disabled or die.
- How to deal with superannuation which is not covered in your will.
Everything You Need to Know About Wills and Estate Planning
Is there anything you can’t pass on in your will?
Contrary to popular belief, not every asset can be passed on to your loved ones. Superannuation cannot be transferred in a will document – you’ll need to contact the super trustee and submit the correct documents (they may vary according to your super provider) to ensure your fund balance is allocated to the right person or people or maybe in your circumstances you would prefer your loved ones have flexibility to determine where your super is detailed to for the purpose of asset testing on retirement. Also, keep in mind you can only pass on what you own. If you’ve paid $100,000 on a $400,000 residential mortgage, then only $100,000 is yours to include in your will.
How do I get a will?
Although DIY wills exist, targeted legal advice will ensure your wishes are enforceable and less likely to be challenged when you no longer have control over how your document is interpreted. The Thornton Storgato Law team believe that good decisions are the product of honest advice. A successful will is a realistic document and needs the finesse of pragmatic legal minds.
What could happen if you go the DIY route?
DIY wills can be straight forward if absolutely everybody in your family never fights and agrees on absolutely everything. Failing the ideal unit, DIY wills can invite division, challenges and a load of legal fees, as your loved ones become embroiled in a big mess, with any accrued fees coming out of the very estate you’ve developed and left to them. It’s not the nicest picture.
What about trusts?
Many of our clients provide ongoing financial support to their children in the form of a trust. Trusts are administered by a trustee – this person or organisation has complete control over the specified assets until the beneficiary meets the terms you’ve laid out in your will. Be aware though, trusts can be open for dispute if the terms and limitations you’ve stipulated are too strict. Keeping it simple, like a specific realistic age, maximises the chances your wishes will be upheld.
Why do you need an estate plan?
Think of an estate plan as an insurance policy. You pay for private healthcare every month just in case you need a filling or a quick stay at a comfortable hospital. Similarly, an estate plan will help your loved ones make decisions in line with your wishes should you become unable to do so, or if you pass away, help them navigate what comes next without the threat and cost of extended legal battles.
How long does it take to get a will drawn up?
At Thornton Storgato Law, we deliver an end-to-end service to our clients, driving their understanding of wills and estate planning as it relates to family law. Because we already know your circumstances, you can be assured your next steps will be confident, informed and deliberate.
If we’ve yet to meet and you’re researching a stand alone document, making a will depends on the complexity of your estate and situation.
What information needs to be in my will?
When contacting an estate planning law firm you should ensure they cover the following details in subsequent meetings:
- Your assets – property, possessions, savings, bank accounts, cars, furniture, businesses, investments, shares and stocks and assets in trust.
- Your family and loved ones – who, what, when and why?
- Your executor – who will carry out the terms you’ve stipulated in your will?
- Your children’s guardian – who will care for children under the age of 18?
- Your living will – what are your wishes if you’re hurt, disabled or injured beyond recovery?
Thornton Storgato Law believes every family benefits from a clear estate plan. Ensure your absence or disability doesn’t inspire disagreement and discontent by maintaining control over your estate beyond your last breath. Nobody can provide for the future of your family like you.