If you become incapacitated or die, what will happen to your pets?
Most pets are dependent on humans for food and shelter, and are unable to look after themselves. It is cruel and illegal to release your pet into the wild to fend for itself, and there may be environmental concerns even if it could survive. As a loving and responsible pet-owner you should include the future well-being of your surviving pets in your plan.
Genders & Partners is the oldest law firm in South Australia, and we have the knowledge, experience and sensitivity to ensure that the right provisions are made for the ongoing care of your pets if you should outlive them or lose the ability to care for them.
If you die or get carried off to hospital suddenly, your pet might be enclosed in a yard, a cage or inside the house. Your family has enough to deal with getting to grips with your illness or death, let alone worrying about a house full of pets. Will they even remember that you have a pet? Probably not for several days, if at all. We suggest setting up a South Australian Pet Trust, as this is a legal document which covers the ongoing care of domestic animals in specific circumstances, such as in the event of your death or incapacity. It names new caregivers or requests that trustees search for new homes for your pets. A trustee is then legally authorised to carry out your wishes from the day of your death or incapacity. A Pet Trust in South Australia differs from a Will, which may take weeks or months to come into effect, as it may require a Court process known as Probate.
Death and taxes (and illness) may be unavoidable … but they don’t have to ruin your family or your business. Make the effort to protect the people you really care about. Here are some lessons from famous people who made some BIG mistakes in their Wills and estate planning.
Celebrity: Allan Scott
Mistake: Not Managing Family Expectations in Will
In a Supreme Court claim in South Australia, two of Mt Gambier trucking magnate Allan Scott’s daughters settled claims against their father’s estate for more than $12 million each, more than triple what each had been left in Mr Scott’s Will, which he had signed while he was ill in the weeks before his death. The millionaire businessman’s widow also has made a claim against her husband’s estate, yet to be resolved. In his Will, Mr Scott had left the bulk of his $600 million estate to two favoured children.
The presents have gone from beneath the tree, the over-full rubbish bin has been emptied and the last of the ham and turkey has finally disappeared from the fridge.
Now is the time when we start to reflect upon those New Year Resolutions we traditionally make early each year.
It’s not hard to find do-it-yourself Wills or Will-kits and other estate-planning materials on the Internet. But the topic is complicated, and the right solution is specific to each individual.
The laws vary from country to country, and even within Australia they vary from state to state. They also change over time, and the laws related to estate planning have also undergone rapid changes internationally over the past several years and are starting to change in Australia too. Further changes to the law are expected in the next few years, as Australian governments try to cope with the retirement of so many Baby Boomers.
If you’re creating or updating an estate plan, it’s essential that you seek the advice of a lawyer who’s well versed in the key issues. Not only can a specialist lawyer advise you how to ensure that your assets are properly distributed and that your health care proceeds in accordance with your wishes, but he can also do so with an eye toward protecting those assets (from creditors, bankruptcy, litigation etc).
Of course, any time you hear the word “lawyer,” it’s natural to worry about the legal costs you might incur. But the process is more affordable than people fear. You might be tempted to postpone creating an estate plan, assuming that you need to have a lot of assets to make the process worthwhile. Alternatively, there are plenty of excuses to delay this important process: waiting until after they are married, until the kids are born, until the kids are grown, until they’ve retired, until the grandkids are born etc. But everyone – regardless of life stage or the size of their estate – should think about hiring a lawyer to draft the basic estate-planning documents: a Will, an Advanced Directive, and powers of attorney.
Before you hire an estate-planning lawyer to draft or update your estate plan, it’s important to understand your role in the estate-planning process. Your estate plan will be most effective if you spend some time at the outset finding the right lawyer for your needs and thinking through what you’re trying to achieve as well as whom you trust to see your wishes through.