What is an Estate Planning Lawyer?
What Does Estate Planning Mean?
In Australia, estate planning refers to the process of organising and making arrangements for the management and disposal of a person’s assets and liabilities upon incapacity or death. It is designed to ensure that the assets are distributed according to the individual’s wishes while minimising the tax burden and potential legal conflicts that might arise among the beneficiaries.
Estate planning can be complex due to the various legal and tax considerations involved, so it is often recommended that individuals consult with professional estate planning lawyers to ensure that all aspects are properly addressed and that the plan complies with all relevant laws and regulations.
How Do Estate Planning Lawyers Help?
Estate planning lawyers can help relieve the burdens mentioned above and help advise clients on how to prepare and manage their personal and financial matters for the future.
Also known as wills and estates lawyers, these solicitors play a crucial role in ensuring plans are comprehensive and legally sound for the distribution and management of assets after death or incapacity.
What Does an Estate Planning Lawyer Do?
Assisting clients in creating a will that clearly articulates the distribution of their assets after death. This includes identifying and accounting for superannuation death benefits and ensuring all specific requirements under Australian law are met.
Advising on and creating trusts, such as discretionary family trusts, testamentary trusts, and special disability trusts, to manage and protect assets both during a client’s life and after.
Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA)
Helping clients set up legal arrangements that give a trusted individual the power to make financial and/or property decisions on their behalf if they become mentally incapacitated.
Assisting clients to appoint a trusted person with the authority to make health and lifestyle decisions on their behalf if they can’t make them for themselves.
Advance Health Directives
Helping clients outline their wishes concerning medical treatments, surgeries, and interventions they would or wouldn’t want if they were in a position where they couldn’t communicate or make decisions for themselves.
Estate Administration and Probate
Assisting executors in the process of validating a will in the Supreme Court (probate), distributing assets, settling debts, and handling estate-related disputes.
Guiding clients on binding and non-binding beneficiary nominations, and advising on how superannuation benefits are treated upon death or incapacity.
Advising on strategies to protect assets from potential claims, such as those under family law or from creditors.
Family Provision Claims
Assisting and advising on potential challenges to a will under the Family Provision legislation, which allows certain close relatives or dependents to claim a larger portion of an estate if they believe they haven’t been adequately provided for.
Business Succession Planning
Advising business owners on how to manage the transition of ownership and control of their business upon retirement, incapacitation, or death.
Examples of Who Estate Planning Lawyers Help
Regardless of one’s stage in life or financial situation, estate planning can bring peace of mind and clarity, minimising the burden on loved ones during challenging times. Estate planning lawyers in Australia play a key role in this process, offering their expertise to guide clients in making the best possible decisions.
Individuals and Families
Estate planning is important for adults regardless of age, family status or wealth level. It ensures that their assets will be distributed according to their wishes and provides directives for health and end-of-life decisions.
This includes individuals in blended families and those in non-marital relationships. Estate planning lawyers can help navigate the complexities to ensure that both current and former family members are treated as the client wishes.
Parents and Guardians of Dependents
Estate planning is crucial for people with dependants, including minor children or adults with special needs. It can establish guardianships, create trusts for ongoing financial support, and ensure the dependents’ needs are met.
Solicitors can help set up special needs trusts or similar arrangements to ensure ongoing care for individuals with disabilities, ensuring the upholding of any government benefits they may be receiving.
High-Net-Worth Individuals and Business Owners
For those with significant wealth, a family business, or complex investments (like property in multiple jurisdictions), estate planning lawyers can help with tax planning, succession planning, and structuring of assets to protect and preserve wealth.
Ageing Individuals and Those with Health Concerns
Estate planning lawyers assist older adults or those with significant health issues in planning for potential incapacity, healthcare decisions, and end-of-life arrangements. This can involve creating powers of attorney, health care directives, and long-term care planning.
This includes those who have specific wishes about leaving money or assets to charities, friends, or distant relatives, ensuring that these wishes are legally enforceable and tax-efficient.
Expatriates and Immigrants
For individuals with significant connections to more than one country—such as property ownership, residency, or citizenship—estate planning can become complex due to differing laws and tax systems. Estate planning lawyers can help individuals navigate these.
Professionals with High Liability Exposure
People in professions with high liability exposure, such as doctors or business owners, may seek estate planning advice to protect their personal assets from potential professional lawsuits.
Estate planning lawyers may work with not-for-profits to set up planned giving programs and advise donors on making bequests to the organisations in a tax-efficient manner.
Considering Estate Planning or Curious to Learn More?
With over 40 years of experience, we’ve seen firsthand that estate planning goes beyond the paperwork. It’s about understanding your family dynamics, preserving your legacy, and ensuring peace of mind for your loved ones.
From creating trusts to ensuring smooth business transitions or even setting up advance healthcare directives, an estate planning lawyer ensures that your wishes are respected, tax implications are considered, and potential family disputes are minimised.
Don’t let the legal jargon baffle you. At Marc Hardman & Associates, we take pride in our friendly approach. We’re here to simplify the process, eliminate your concerns, and help you grasp every opportunity to secure the future of your assets and loved ones. Reach out to our friendly team today to learn more about how estate planning can help you.