Expert Advice

If you don’t want to leave a mess behind then best to have a plan

John Thistleton2 April 2019

Making a plan can bring peace of mind so no matter what life’s circumstances, key matters will be taken care of.

At some stage, we all come to the realisation we are not getting any younger and must begin planning for our future. So, when the inevitable events beyond our control arrive, the key to peace of mind is not only having our affairs sorted out, but a plan in place, and a guide for the rest of our lives.

Phillip Davey, who is a partner at DDCS Lawyers, specialises in such plans. Mr Davey brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to estate planning, superannuation and making a Will. Estate planning is essentially developing and implementing a plan of how someone’s assets will be dealt with upon their death.

“The implementation document is a Will,” Mr Davey says. “The plan will usually cover who can make decisions about a person’s Estate while they are still alive but lack capacity. The document giving effect to this is an Enduring Power of Attorney.”

Mr Davey says not all assets are owned by the individual making the Will or granting the Enduring Power of Attorney. “For example, superannuation, trust assets and company assets need to be taken into account in developing and implementing the plan, and appropriate arrangements put in place to deal with who will control the entities holding the assets in the event of a person’s death.”

When developing an estate plan, key issues to consider include:

  • The capacity of the person making the Will;
  • The risk of a family member making a family provision claim;
  • Catering for vulnerable beneficiaries, for example, a beneficiary with a disability;
  • The taxation consequences, particularly in relation to superannuation.

Wait, you say, this sounds complex. This is where DDCS Lawyers, which was founded in 2007, can bring peace of mind because the firm specialises in dealing with relationships.

“Our areas of practice are family law and estate planning, estate disputes, and probate,” Mr Davey says. “All areas of practice require a deep understanding of family dynamics and relationships, together with specialised knowledge of the relevant law.

“We strive to provide our clients with a premium service experience. All of our six partners are accredited specialists in their chosen field of work, including the only accredited specialist in Wills and estates in the ACT.”

DDCS Lawyers begins estate planning with a comprehensive questionnaire which covers personal relationships, business interests including assets and liabilities, family trust details and likely beneficiaries.

Every client brings their own unique set of circumstances. Some are more complex than others, and a client’s partner is usually involved in developing the estate plan.

“For more complex matters we work with financial advisers and accountants advising the clients,” Mr Davey says.

The trigger points for estate planning are varied but include:

  • Impending marriage;
  • The birth of children;
  • Acquisition of a business or commencing a new business venture;
  • Death of a family member and/or a receipt of an inheritance;
  • Divorce or separation;
  • Other significant life events.

While lawyers may not be associated with superannuation, they play a key role. “However, the role of the financial planner in relation to superannuation is different to that of the lawyer in developing an estate plan,” Mr Davey says.

“In particular, there are significant tax consequences depending on who is the ultimate beneficiary of superannuation following a superannuant’s death. Consideration also needs to be given to whether superannuation should be the subject of a Binding Death Benefit Nomination.”

Other matters to decide are whether a reversionary pension should be put in place, and what the provisions of the Will should provide for in relation to superannuation. Mr Davey says these are ultimately questions which must be resolved by the lawyer in the development of the estate plan.

DDCS Lawyers can start you on a path to a more certain future. The checklist begins with having an updated Will and knowing how your estate will be handled. As 2019 gathers pace, now is the time to begin developing an estate plan to get your life moving in the right direction. Call Mr Davey at DDCS Lawyers to get started.

Original Article published by John Thistleton on The RiotACT.

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