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Preparing Your Estate for the Future: A Guide to Organising Your Affairs

07 Nov 2023

1 min read

07 Nov 2023

The Importance of Proactive Estate Planning

Grieving the loss of a family member can be an emotionally challenging experience. During this difficult time, it’s common to prioritise healing and emotional recovery. However, it’s also important to consider the practical aspects of estate planning to ease the burden on your next of kin.

The last thing a grieving family wants to confront during this already difficult time is the realisation that their departed loved one did not adequately manage their estate planning. Mismanaged estates often entail significant work and expenses to resolve, further exacerbating the challenges facing the family in the aftermath of the loss. Taking proactive steps and establishing a well-thought-out estate plan can help alleviate these frustrations and prevent financial complications after the passing of a family member.

Dealing with Deceased Estate Administration

Dealing with the administration of a deceased estate is an inevitable part of life, and while it may not be pleasant to think about, taking proactive steps can significantly ease the burden on your loved ones. Our experienced estate and probate lawyers are here to guide you through this process, ensuring that your estate planning is both up to date and well organised. We can assist your family and executor(s) in obtaining a Grant of Probate and effectively administering your estate after your passing. This way, your family won’t have to struggle with the complexities of dealing with your asset holders on their own.

Timeline and Variations in Obtaining a Grant of Probate

The timeline for obtaining a Grant of Probate can vary significantly depending on the Australian State where your assets are located. For instance, the New South Wales Supreme Court has recently introduced an Online Probate Process, reducing the waiting period to approximately 4 weeks. However, any issues with your estate planning could potentially extend this timeframe, as additional documents may be required to address requisitions. In some other Australia States, the process is faster. It is essential to discuss your specific circumstances with our estate lawyers to gain a better understanding of the time and costs that your executors may face when distributing your assets after your passing.

To get your affairs in order before your passing, consider the following crucial steps:

  1. Create an effective Will: Your Will should be tailored to your unique circumstances, and it’s best prepared by a professional
  2. Set Up Binding Death Nominations: Ensure that your superannuation interests have binding death nominations in place, whether they’re with industry funds and SMSF
  3. Deal with Real Property Interests: Be aware of how your interest is registered on the Certificate of Title, as this can impact whether an interest can be addressed in your Will
  4. Handle Trusts and Companies: Effectively address interests in any Trusts and/or Companies in both your Will and the corresponding Trust Deed and/or Shareholders Agreement
  5. Business Succession Planning: If you own a business, it’s crucial to have a business succession plan in place.

Consider the following practical aspects as well:

  1. Financial Considerations for Dependents: Take into account the financial circumstances of your spouse, partner, or dependents who rely on your income. Consider options like providing a reversionary pension from your Superannuation
  2. Family Dynamics: Anticipate how your surviving family will distribute your assets and address potential disputes or issues in advance. An independent executor or trustee may be necessary
  3. Funeral and Burial Wishes: Discuss your wishes for your funeral and burial with your family
  4. Document Storage: Safely store important documents and ensure someone knows how to access them. If your Will is held by a lawyer, make sure your executor is aware of their contact information
  5. Asset Lists: Maintain a detailed list of assets such as shares, bank accounts, cryptocurrency, Certificates of Titles and document their locations. Failing to provide this information to your executor may result in assets going undiscovered
  6. Electronic Account Details: Clearly outline how your executor should access your electronic accounts, including passwords and other relevant information.

Neglecting any of these issues can lead to administrative burdens on your estate and potential disputes with asset holders over asset distribution.

Additionally, it’s important to consider is whether your estate might be challenged, especially in cases involving blended families or multiple children from different partners. If you anticipate such challenges additional structures in your Will can help protect against them.

While the administration phase of a deceased estate can’t be entirely avoided, ensuring that your legal documentation is effective and accurate with the help of an estate lawyer can minimise the administrative work. Additionally, open communication with your family and beneficiaries about your Will and Estate is encouraged, as long as you believe they won’t unduly influence your decisions. Organising your affairs is not just for your benefit but also for the well-being of your family and those set to inherit your estate.

Reach out to our estate lawyers for professional guidance on estate planning to ensure your legal documents are in order for a smooth asset transfer. If you require assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our Wills and Estate Planning lawyers to see how we can help.

Disclaimer: This article has been prepared for general information purposes and may not apply to your situation. This information should not be relied upon for legal, tax or accounting advice. Your individual circumstances will alter any legal advice given. The views expressed may not reflect the opinions, views or values of PCL Lawyers and belong solely to the author of the content. © PCL Lawyers Pty Ltd.

If you require legal advice specific to your situation please speak to one of our team members today.

About The Author - Philip Drew

Philip is a Senior Associate and leads the Wills and Estates practice group at PCL Lawyers. He advises clients across a wide range of complex estate planning matters, the administration of deceased...

Providing clients with the best possible service and advice.

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