Estate planning – what is it?

Estate planning can be as simple as choosing your legal personal representatives and drafting a 2 page will or it can be a great deal more complex.

In these times people have assets in different forms and in different types of entities. Some of these may be estate assets which pass in accordance with what your will says. Others may be in a form of entity you control – such as a trust. Examples of these include assets in family trusts, and in some cases, superannuation. A home owned jointly is not an estate asset.

The work in estate planning is determining what assets are estate assets and what are non estate assets and then putting in place mechanisms to ensure the assets you own or control end up where you want them to end up – in a manner which is as tax effective as possible.

This process may involve not only drafting a will with extensive trust provisions but may also involve amending superannuation trust deeds, discretionary trust deeds and putting in place binding or non binding death benefit nominations or reversionary pensions. It may also involve working out what would happen if you passed away tomorrow and putting in place interim control mechanisms to operate in the period between death and the grant of probate to your legal personal representatives.

You may also want to consider protecting your children’s share of an estate from divorce and creditors. This may involve drafting customised protective provisions into your testamentary trusts.

Of course there may be a period when you become unable to handle your own affairs – financial affairs and personal matters. To assist you at that time powers of attorney and guardianship documents need to be drafted to suit your particular needs.

Peter Gell has been helping people plan their estates for over 30 years. For assistance in your estate planning please contact him via email or phone on the numbers indicated.

Peter Gell

Peter was admitted as a solicitor in 1981 and holds qualifications in law and a Masters degree in taxation conferred by the University of NSW. Peter practises in taxation advisory, estate planning and wills, probate and commercial law.