Once it was considered that only affluent people needed to bother with estate planning. But much depends on your idea of affluence. When compared with many Third World countries, many inhabitants of Australia could be considered affluent. In any case, if you have some assets, it would be a good idea to see your family lawyers about estate planning. There are two main aims for this –
- It will help to avoid any financial hardship for your next of kin in the event of your death.
- It will minimise any family arguments about who should get what out of your assets.
While you may think the latter is not all that important, some family squabbles go on for decades and can really fracture a family, often forever. Then of course, there is one other good reason for estate planning and that is to reduce taxes. Some of the taxes that were once in force are no longer in existence, but there are always others to take their place, so you can’t avoid them completely. So estate and death duties are out, but capital gains tax is in, as well as other various taxes that may depend on just what your assets are. If you need help finding a lawyer, try this Lawyers List.
What you need to aim for when estate planning is for it to be as simple as possible to make administration quick and easy. It should not be expensive to maintain and it should provide for some fun for you as well as having plenty left over to pass on to your heirs.
You don’t want to have to live like a pauper just so your family can benefit. You have worked hard for your assets so deserve to enjoy the fruits of your labours while you can. Any estate plan should also be reviewed on a regular basis so that any change in your life can be taken into account. For instance, you may –
- Get married
- Have children
- Have a disabled child who requires care throughout adult life
- Go through a divorce
- Lose a spouse through death
- You may remarry
- Your new spouse may have children that you adopt or come to love as your own
- You may have more children with your new spouse
Life is never static and often changes for good or for bad at the drop of a hat.
If you don’t review your estate plan regularly it may be so out of date by the time of your death that it will no longer fulfil your wishes. It is important to make decisions about your estate while you still have the capacity to do so, because if you leave it too late, who will decide where your assets will go?