Whoopty do… What does it all mean?

 In a nutshell, you will want to have good estate planning with a wise estate administrator, in order to limit the likelihood of estate disputes later. There you are, all neatly wrapped up in one sentence. But what does it all mean, you still ask?

 It’s probably good to have a bit of a laugh about it, but the sad reality is that many people spend more time planning an overseas trip than they do planning for the journey towards their ultimate event — their grand finale — and the aftermath for their close friends and loved ones.

 For many, the term estate planning simply means having a Will. Certainly, having a properly executed Will is vitally important, but we should expand the concept of estate planning and think of it more in terms of rest of life planning.

 Estate planning refers to a possible suite of documents:

  •  Will
  • Power of Attorney
  • Enduring Guardian
  • Advanced Care Directive

 A Will defines your directions for the disbursement of your estate upon your death. (A note of caution here: assets such as superannuation, proceeds from life insurance and assets from a company or trust do not necessarily pass directly into your estate.)

 Power of Attorney: This defines circumstances where a nominated person can act in respect of your financial matters as if they were you. It includes their ability to sell your assets while you are living.

 Enduring Guardian: You may wish to provide a carefully chosen person with the power to make decisions for you in relation to your health care, living arrangements and personal services, in other words, all those matters that affect your quality of life.

 Advanced Care Directive: You can decide how you wish to be treated in the event that you are extremely unwell. This removes any decision-making from loved ones who may, for example, wish you to have life-prolonging treatment that you may prefer ahead of time not to have. This document provides authority to care professionals to carry out your wishes at this delicate time.

 It is important to note that none of these documents are compulsory, but they do provide the ability to take charge of future circumstances now, while in sound mind, when proper thought can be given to important issues. For full effect, the documents need to be professionally prepared to ensure that they do indeed clearly and legally reflect your wishes.

 

Administering and dealing with fall out

 Upon death, the Executor appointed in your Will has the responsibility to carry out your wishes. It is extremely important, both ethically and legally, that the directions of your Will are implemented as written.

 Estate administration — or in other words, the act of carrying out the directions in a Will and dealing with challenges that may arise — can be overwhelming, particularly at a time when the executor and other parties involved are already charged with emotion and grief. There are also various circumstances where parties may feel they have been unfairly excluded and decide to challenge a Will. This is when estate disputes can arise.

 At any stage, an Executor may decide to engage an impartial legal representative to carry out the role of executor and handle any difficulties that might arise.

 It is vitally important that qualified estate lawyers handle these matters. Estate Planning – Estate Law – the big picture, and the detail. It will be easier with sound legal advice from the experts. Owen Hodge Lawyers. We are here to help. Contact us today if you have any questions about the topics raised in this article or if you have any questions with regards to estate planning.