What is estate planning?
Estate planning is about more than just having a Will. It involves the review, management and control of your personal and business affairs. It includeds tax-effective Wills and directives to protect your estate and the interests of your beneficiaries in the event of your death.
The following factors should be considered when developing your estate plan:
Making a Will is the best way to ensure that once you pass away, your family members are properly provided for, and it minimises the likelihood of estate disputes.
What is a Will?
A will is a legal document which sets out who’ll receive your property and possessions (estate) after your death. Having a valid will gives you the best chance of making sure your assets go where you want them to.
The people who receive your estate are referred to as your beneficiaries.
Why do I need a Will?
You should always make a will if you have a family or if other people are financially dependent on you.
Without a Will, you don't have any say about how your estate is distributed. If you die with out making a Will (intestate) your assets, including personal belongings, will be disributed according to law. Your estate could be left to your legal next of kin, which may not necessarily be your intention.
Making or altering your Will is particularly important when life circumstances change. It is recommended that you review your Will every three to five years to ensure that it still reflects your wishes.
A Will also provides you with the opportunity to name guardians for dependent children and establish a trust or donate directly to Churches of Christ in Queensland or any other charity that you may wish to support.
Help with making your Will
The law around Wills can be complex, therefore it is advisable to have yours drafted by someone who understands the law and can advise the best way to ensure your assets end up where you want them to. Making a homemade Will means you run the risk of your intentions not being clear enough. They are also more likely to be contested.
A solicitor or The Public Trustee of Queensland can confidentially discuss your concerns and requirements. The Solicitor or Public Trustee of Queensland will prepare a Will for you and assist with the correct wording to ensure that your wishes regarding your estate are honoured. The Will making service by The Public Trustee of Queensland is 100 per cent fee free. Private solicitors may charge for making a Will.
Power of Attorney
What is Power of Attorney?
We cannot always act on our own behalf, this might be due to illness, accident or emergency or incapacitation. Granting Power of Attorney means you legally appoint a person or organisation to make decisions, sign documents and act on your behalf. This can be particularly helpful for elderly people who may not be able to do some of the day to day activities such as banking as easily as they used to. Granting Power of Attorney to a trusted reliable loved one can help create peace of mind.
Various forms of Power of Attorney
- Limited Power of Attorney – limiting the actions that can be performed on your behalf
- General Power of Attorney – giving wide powers to act on your behalf
- Enduring Power of Attorney – wide ranging powers to act on you behalf, even if you suffer a loss of mental capacity.
Power of Attorney documents can be drawn up by a solicitor or the Public Trustee of Queensland.
Advance Health Directive
Any adult has the right to accept or refuse recommended health care. However, there may be times when you are unable to express your wishes, due to accident, emergency, illness or incapacitation. An Advance Health Directive is a legal document that states your wishes or directions in relation to future health care and medical treatment and how you would like your body to be dealt with in the event of an accident.
You can chose for it to come into effect any time you are unable to decide for yourself or only if you are terminally ill. If you have already given someone Enduring Power of Attorney you need to discuss your Advance Health Directive with them.
An Advance Health Directive needs to be completed by you and your doctor and signed by a witness. If you are admitted to hospital, you would let your medical staff about it and where it can be obtained.