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A Little Planning
= A Big Gift

At Life Legal, we are passionate about inspiring you to make informed decisions about your life, legacy and what matters to you the most.

We don’t like witnessing the negative impact DIY planning, poor planning or no planning at all can have on loved ones and on the overall value of peoples’ estates.

First off, it is super important to see an experienced estate planning lawyer so that you can explore all options available to you.  If you take one thing from this blog, please, please, do not act on comments made by the ‘bush’ lawyer at Saturday night’s BBQ!

Second, an up-to-date estate plan really is the most thoughtful gift you can give to your loved ones.

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What exactly is ‘estate planning’, you ask? It includes a Will, but it is SO much more.  It is developing a tailored plan to suit your circumstances and needs (and those of your loved ones), dealing with:

  • the distribution of the assets that you own when you pass away;
  • the appointment of a guardian for your children;
  • the appointment of people you trust to make decisions for you if you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself in the future;
  • your future medical care (which can include end of life decisions);
  • gifting of your superannuation; and
  • passing control of your company/trust to the right people.

Many couples we meet have a blended family, each with their own dynamics and needs.  Some planning can be straightforward but more often than not, there is quite a lot to consider particularly to the competing interests of new spouses, children, stepchildren and other ‘eligible’ people.

It is well known that estates can be challenged, but there are only select categories of people who are ‘eligible’ to do so and they must establish why the court should change your intentions.

In Queensland, your spouse, child (including your stepchild or adopted child), or limited dependants (e.g. a former spouse to whom you are paying child support), are eligible to challenge your estate.  To be successful, they must establish that you didn’t leave them with ‘adequate provision’ for their ‘proper maintenance and support’.

What is not so well known is that:

  • in Queensland, for estate purposes, a ‘spouse’ is a person you have been living with ‘in a genuine domestic relationship’ in the 2 years before your death;
  • if your spouse has children of their own, and your spouse passes away while you are still in a relationship, their child remains your stepchild for the rest of your life. That is, they remain eligible to challenge your estate even after their parent has died;
  • there is no set ‘amount’ that will save an estate from challenge because what is ‘adequate’ for one person may be inadequate for another. Imagine, an 8 year old child with special needs will require far more financial support for the remainder of their lifetime than a middle aged child who has a house, a job and superannuation.

There are many estate planning strategies for blended families, including testamentary trusts, binding financial agreements (also known as Prenups.  Yes, they assist with estate planning as well as separation!), superannuation binding death benefit nominations, rights to occupy and life interests and changes to property tenancies.

Here at Life Legal, we are a boutique law practice, dedicated to providing access to quality legal advice and support in all aspects of family law, wills and estate planning and estate administration.

Like to discuss further?  Contact us for a free 15 minute strategy call today.

http://www.lifelegal.com.au

 

The information provided in this blog is for general information only on legal topics current at the time of publication. The content does not constitute legal advice or recommendations and should not be relied upon. Whilst every care has been taken in the preparation of this article, Life Legal Group Pty Ltd cannot accept responsibility for any errors, including those caused by negligence, in the material. We make no representations, statements or warranties about the accuracy or completeness of the information. Appropriate legal advice should always be obtained for your individual situation.