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Don’t go over the cliff

Published on July 26, 2017 by Brett Fatches

As a lawyer, I’m often engaged in trying to solve problems after the event, a little like one who carefully picks through the wreckage after a car has gone over the cliff. Consequently, I have become passionately interested in estate planning.

Estate planning is creating structures to prevent the car from going over the cliff. It is about seeing problems in the future and putting in place a plan to avoid them for you and your family. A Will is a part of estate planning, it is a part of the plan to provide for people who are important to you.

There are very few people who enter the world of purchasing property without relying upon good legal, or conveyancing advice. We rely upon the skill and care of lawyers and conveyancers to make sure that the property we are purchasing is registered in our name and any problems attached to that property are either resolved or brought to our attention.

A Will is not about the purchase or sale of one property; it concerns and governs all of your assets. It is about the conveyance of your home, your investment property, your beach house, your investments, your shares, your business, your farm, and all of your personal property. And yet, we think that a Will is simple and low cost.

What do you want to do? 

This is the typical question asked when you present to make your Will. But, this is only the first stage of preparing your Will. There needs to be a thorough investigation of what you actually own and how you own it. There also needs to be a careful consideration of your personal history. Have you have been married before and have three children to that marriage. Do you now live in a de facto relationship and are there are any additional children.

It is often more important that these types of questions are asked in modest estates than they are for people who have considerable wealth. The impact of a mistake resulting in a large liability to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), or resulting in a protracted court case will have more affect on a small estate than on a large one.

Estate planning is important for the people who are important to you. Unless you know where you are going, it is highly likely that you and your family will not get there. You need to seek the assistance of a lawyer who is really interested in estate planning and is able to ask the right questions to guide, assist and plan with you.

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