Six Reasons Why LGBT Couples Should Create an Integrated Estate Plan

Six Reasons Why LGBT Couples Should Create an Integrated Estate Plan

A legal marriage inherently affords certain rights to husbands and wives when a spouse dies without a Will or estate plan. The same cannot be said for LGBT couples, who must meet certain criteria to qualify as domestic partnerships under the law.

Without solid legal documentation of your wishes for your partner, children, health care and finances, you and your loved ones could suffer needlessly in the event that you become incapacitated or die.

Here are just six of the numerous reasons LGBT couples need to meet with Genders & Partners as soon as possible for Wills & estate planning in Adelaide.

Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: Kids Growing Up

As a parent, what is our worst fear?

Kids Growing Up

For most of us, it would be receiving that phone call telling us that our child is having a medical emergency. It might be a car accident, or some other health crisis, but as soon as we are notified we want to rush into action to help them.  No matter how old they are, they will always be our child, even if they are now an adult.

It used to be that when a child turned 21, he would receive a key to the front-door of the family home, in a rite-of-passage symbolising and acknowledging their transition from child to adult.

With the faster pace of life, and changing societal expectations, the legal age-of-majority is now18.

Did you know that if your children are aged 18 or older, even if they are still living at home with you, then you are no longer able to make their medical decisions for them? In fact, you have no right to speak with their doctor or nurses or see their medical records.

Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: Star Trek and Estate Planning

Wills-Estate-Planning-slider

Of all the countries in the world, Australia ranks in the top 5 with longest lifespans (17 places ahead of the UK and 33 places ahead of the USA).  Each year, our average life expectancy continues to increase.

And yet, more than half of adult Australians do not have a legal Will, and even fewer have an integrated estate plan.

Life used to be simpler. People worked for the same employer for their entire career. They had government-guaranteed pensions. Medical expenses were manageable. Divorce was rare and remarriages rarer still.  25 years ago, when my legal career began, I can clearly recall the expression “broken home” being used as an excuse for various misconduct. Most people were not invested in the stock market.

But, the trade-off was that although life was simpler, it was also significantly shorter. Retirement didn’t last long, so people didn’t worry as much about having sufficient savings to last a lifetime. Long periods of incapacity were unusual.  You worked, then you died.

When the Australian Government began the aged pension in the 1920’s, they set the age-of-eligibility at 65 for men.  At that time, the average life expectancy for men was only 63, so the Government did not expect to have to pay out much for the pension, nor medical treatment, aged care or publically assisted accommodation.

Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: The Benefit of Advance Directives

The Benefit of Advance Directives

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine, shows one in four elderly people require someone else to make decisions about their medical care at the end of their lives.

These findings support the value of advance healthcare directives as a means of making end-of-life treatment preferences known (sometimes called anticipatory directives or living wills).

The study found that such formal estate planning documents improved the likelihood that a patient’s wishes would be followed and reduced emotional trauma among family members.

The results illustrate the value of people making their end-of-life wishes known in an advance directive (living will) as well as designating someone to make treatment decisions for them before the end-of-life stage.  This is why both a Natural Death Advance Directive and a Medical Power of Attorney are necessary parts of a modern integrated estate plan.  Each document fulfils a specific purpose.

The Associated Press reports: “In the study, those who spelled out their preferences in living wills usually got the treatment they wanted. Only a few wanted heroic measures to prolong their lives. The researchers said it’s the first accounting of how many of the elderly really end up needing medical decisions made for them.”

Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: Create an Integrated Estate Plan That Works

There are lots of reasons why estate plans fail, including poor documents, failure to update them, careless titling of assets, and forgetting to nominate or update beneficiary designations.

Create an Integrated Estate Plan That Works

Then there are the situational problems, where there is a failure to properly address family issues and dynamics.

So how do you define an estate plan that will work for you and your family when it’s really needed?

Let’s take a quick look at some of the features I would ideally wish to see in an integrated estate plan:

It should give you access and control over your property while you are alive and well. This won’t be the case if your assets are jointly titled with someone other than your spouse or if you fail to follow through on the terms of a property settlement agreement after a divorce.

How to Live Well in Retirement

How to Live Well in Retirement

Are you nervous about the recent volatility in the markets, as you approach retirement age?

Everyone hopes for a comfortable retirement, but how many really plan for a long and fulfilling retirement? You know you should put money away for your retirement, but as that day approaches (particularly with world share markets and superannuation funds in crisis), which financial and investment strategies should you follow to help yourself enjoy the lifestyle you’ve envisioned?

You could literally spend decades in retirement. With advances in medicine and healthcare, it is actually becoming increasingly likely that Australians will live longer in retirement than they were in the workforce. Keep this type of longevity in mind when you create investment strategies for your retirement.

Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: 9 Meals from Anarchy

… estate planning and the need to be prepared…

9 Meals from Anarchy

Authors, politicians, revolutionaries, psychologists and philosophers have long proclaimed that civilisation is only 3 days – or 9 meals – away from anarchy, barbarism and revolution.

Think about it – no food on supermarket shelves  –  how long before law and order started to break down, and suburban streets descend into chaos and mob-rule?

It’s been a long time since any of us in Australia were genuinely hungry.  I mean starving from lack of available food, not the latest Hollywood diet.

But imagine a sudden loss of electrical power, like Auckland experienced in 1998.  That’s only 15 years ago, in a modern first world country. There it took five weeks to restore that power supply, and about 60,000 people had to relocate to other New Zealand cities, or even to Australia.

So imagine your whole state without power for weeks.  No electric light or refrigeration. No internet, television, radio or phones.  No banking or EFTPOS. The electric pumps at the service stations shutdown oil and petrol supplies, so no trucks delivering food.

No electrical pumps means eventually no running water.

Asset Protection – Be Smart, Be Safe

Genders and Partners | Asset Protection – Be Smart, Be Safe | Wills and Estate Planning

Protecting your assets is one of the most important financial decisions you will ever make. Asset protection is a valuable and important part of a modern integrated estate plan. No matter how many assets you have, you should make an effort to protect them, but try to avoid these common mistakes:

1. Lack of Knowledge

Lots of people misunderstand how asset protection works. Some people believe asset protection makes them “judgment proof.” Even if your assets are protected, you may still cop an adverse court judgment. In some cases, efforts you have made to protect your assets can be overturned. This is why it is important to work with a professional when creating your protection plan.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming asset protection and estate planning are the same thing. Asset protection is part of any strong estate plan but they are not the same thing. Some trusts do nothing to protect you from creditors, and Family Court issues can interfere with the best-laid plans.

Don’t make the mistake of confusing bankruptcy law and asset protection law. In a state like South Australia, newer bankruptcy laws do not prevent the “clawing back” of assets you may have tried to unsuccessfully protect. You have less protection in bankruptcy court, so filing for bankruptcy should be used as a last resort.