As the oldest law firm in South Australia, and specialising in Trusts, Wills, Estate Planning and Administration of Deceased Estates, we frequently encounter examples of people failing to take the proper steps to create an estate plan that will work properly when the time comes.
Some people allow their families to learn the hard way, and fail to shield their families from costly legal messes.
5 Tips to Avoid Common Estate Planning Mistakes
Here are five important lessons you can learn from the mistakes of others and useful methods to apply to prevent estate-planning pitfalls:
- Don’t die without a valid and up-to-date Will
If you die without a valid Will, then the law of the state where you die will direct where your assets are to go – and the government might even get its hands on your estate. If you have a Will but don’t keep it up to date, then the chances of a successful challenge to your estate after your gone are much increased. One of the first things that the Court will look at is how old is your Will when attempting to decide a contest. The older the document when you die, the more likely it is that the Court will conclude that it no longer accurately reflects your testamentary intentions at the date of your death.
- Don’t make assumptions about the values of specific gifts
Thinking she was treating her two children equally in her bequest, one woman left a run-down shack to her son and a Heysen painting to her daughter. Unfortunately, when she died, it was revealed that the painting was a copy, leaving the daughter short-changed. The shack was on the river in a newly-fashionable area, and was worth a lot more than the testator had thought.
- Be very careful when planning for a blended family
Make sure you provide for your children from a prior marriage. A man with children from a first marriage left all his assets to his second wife; when she died, all of those assets went to her children, leaving nothing for his children. Instead, he could have provided for them directly or placed his assets in a trust so they could pass to his children after her death.
- Name the right people as executors and agents
Naming a family member might be fine, but not always the best option. Don’t name people in important legal roles just because you love them. Nominate people who know and understand your wishes, and can fulfil their role reliably and sensibly.
- Put it in writing
Don’t rely on verbal promises, as these can be forgotten or misinterpreted. If you want to leave something to someone, or direct how they are to handle your affairs, you need to put it in writing in your Will, or a trust, or directive.
Learn more about how to avoid common estate planning mistakes. Consult an expert lawyer who specialises in Wills and Estate Planning today.
For further information on protecting yourself, your family and your assets, call our office on 08 8212 7233 to schedule a free preliminary telephone consultation.
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SPECIAL REPORT “Top 10 Estate Planning Predictions for Australia”
Enjoy this article?
Check out the full report containing all 10 Estate Planning Predictions from senior Australian lawyer Rod Genders. Valuable insights to prepare for the future and help protect yourself, your family and your assets.