A confronting but important question…

If you were to die tonight,
would your family survive financially?

If you have amassed considerable assets and you care for your family and loved ones then you must make sure your estate plan is well prepared.

These are the issues facing your family if you have young children and die without a will:

  • The question of who will look after them if you and your spouse die together is not clear cut;
  • Your spouse will not have access to all of the assets in your estate – 50% will be held on trust for your children until they are 18;
  • Could your spouse even afford to pay the mortgage and care for your children if they only received half of your estate?
Grief

If you are in business and you pass away unexpectedly then
these 3 critical issues will affect your family.

  • 1By itself, your Will is not going to protect your interests. Your estate, and therefore your family, could easily be vulnerable to the ATO, creditors and business partners
  • 2Without you, your business may not survive and provide for your family (and if you were gone, would your partners want to support your family long term anyway?)
  • 3Your Will can be easily challenged by family members who feel left out, or have an axe to grind. This may take years to resolve and in a bad case can reduce your estate to nothing by the end.

What we’ve seen at Your LegalHQ

As solicitors we often deal with the aftermath of somebody’s untimely death.

We’ve seen estates that were well planned. And these families emerge financially secure after a simple transition.

However, we’ve also seen what happens when families weren’t prepared. The ensuing carnage is like an emotional and financial horror story. Families can be crippled by debt and the surviving spouse ends up selling the family home, no matter how successful they were before.

That’s why we urge you to contact us to discuss your situation and make sure every eventuality is covered. The number to book is 08 9445 9200.

Most people think that if they die, their family automatically gets everything they have. Their business interests, their assets, the lot. They wrongly assume their Will covers all this.

Thinking a Will is going to protect your interests is just plain wrong.
It’s not your fault – most people think that.

Actually, your will is only a small part of the puzzle.

While your family mourns your passing, a Will, all by itself, is not going to make sure that creditors, business
partners and the ATO are all dealt with properly, when you are not there to guide the process. A
Will by itself is more likely to a trail of destruction.

Worse still, if you are the primary financial decision maker then it could be months before your partner is
emotionally ready to deal with money issues. Financial damage can in many cases occur in this period.
Your partner might be left facing the financial struggles you hoped they would avoid.

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So what exactly is a Will?

A Will is just a mechanism for handing assets to your family.

  • It gives no guidance to those dealing with your estate on which assets should be sold and which should be kept;
  • It says nothing about the tax consequences of keeping or selling the wrong asset;
  • It cannot deal with assets that you control through a company or trust;
  • It cannot compel your business partners to keep paying a share of profits to your family;
  • It cannot force your business partners to buy your share of your business from your estate.
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Dealing with these issues should be part of a strategic plan which ensures everything runs smoothly and automatically when you pass away.

A well thought out estate plan is like a series of stacked dominoes. When you pass away, the first domino is tipped over. When it’s tipped the other dominos fall exactly as intended. The Will is the tool at the end which picks up the fallen dominos, packs them in the box and gives the whole box to your family in a neat, orderly package. Then all they have to do is put the box in their pocket.

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Meeting

Without a proper estate plan, here are just a few things which can happen.

  • The ATO hits your estate with a massive tax bill as assets pass from one person to the next at the wrong time
  • Your estate could be left with substantial business, housing or investment loans and no way of paying them without adequate life insurance (which we always consider in estate planning)
  • Business assets end up in limbo because assets in companies and trusts can’t be ‘given away’ in a Will
  • Family members may challenge your Will. This could leave your family with virtually nothing to survive on until the challenge has been resolved. This can take years and the toll on your spouse is massive during this sort of litigation.

Now you know, you can see why just “having a Will” is
inadequate protection.

What happens to your business when you pass away?

Consider this scenario:

You are in business with a partner. You manage sales and they manage operations. You suddenly pass away.

Your business interests pass to your spouse who isn’t the best person to take on your role in the business.

Your business partner is not good at sales. They’re stretched thin and sales and operations both suffer.

The business begins to fail. Your spouse is getting very little out of it. Arguments follow and lawyers swap letters.

Eventually your business partner agrees to buy your spouse out but
a) they can’t afford it, because the bank won’t a person whose business is failing and
b) nobody can agree on what the figure should be.

Your partner thinks it should be a low value because the business is travelling poorly. Your spouse thinks that not their problem and the value should be what it was before you passed away.

Meanwhile the business continues to suffer until it goes under and nobody gets anything.

Could that happen to your business?

If you’re a business owner, you can probably see some variation of this could happen to you.

It doesn’t matter if you are in partnership, operate through a unit trust, use a company, or own your business outright. The question of what happens to your business could be critical to family’s future.

Particularly if creditors come after your estate because you provided personal guarantees and the business is now suffering without you.

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A well prepared estate plan will address questions like:

  • What happens to your share in the business should you pass away and your spouse is not the best person to run it?
  • Is there a buy-out clause in place, and what happens if your business partner doesn’t have the funds to buy it straight away? And what is a fair price?
  • What is your personal liability should the business run into trouble? These liabilities automatically pass to your estate and therefore affect your family.
  • Have your companies, trusts and other structures been set up so they automatically pass to the right people, or will they end up in limbo?

These questions, and others like them could cause major problems in the event of your death. And trigger the collapse of the legacy you wanted to leave your family.

Now you know, you can see why just “having a Will” is
inadequate protection.

That’s why we urge you to contact us to
assess your situation and make sure every eventuality
is covered. The number to book is 08 9445 9200.

Your Will Can Be Easily Contested By Family Members

The words ‘final Will and Testament’ are very misleading. They may not be ‘final’ at all.

When somebody contests your will it can take years to resolve. Nothing goes to your family until
the court process is complete. And usually, your estate pays everyone’s legal bills
(yes, you read that right).

What this means is anyone with legal standing can contest your will and not pay a cent. And yes, it seems very unfair for the estate to pay their legal fees. But that’s the law. The courts often order that everyone’s costs are paid out of the estate even when the challenger loses!

It’s a free hit, and they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Meanwhile your loved ones may not see a single dollar until the legal process, including all avenues of appeal are exhausted.

People think their ‘will kit’ type Wills have protected their family from these risks. But when it comes to the crunch they’re often not worth the paper they’re written on.

There are 4 strategies to provide certainty against your will being contested, and not a single one of them is executed by writing something in the Will.

Naturally, you need to look at each option and see how it may help you.  Book an appointment to find out more.

Your Next Step?

We have seen first-hand the impact of badly planned estates.

We have seen once successful, wealthy families crippled.

And we’ve seen the legacy of successful people evaporate.

Not because of the death of an owner, but because they didn’t prepare for it.

The more complex your affairs the worse it can be. That’s why if you have business interests, investments or other significant assets you should meet with one of our estate planning specialists to review your position and give you a realistic assessment about what could happen in the event of your death.

To book an Estate Planning Review, call us on 08 9445 9200.

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Please do not put this important task off.

Even if it’s after hours, fill in the contact form on this page and leave your contact details so we can call you back.

There are many things you can procrastinate over but this isn’t one of them.

Why? You see, many people will leave it for a few days. And even though they intend to get back to it, a few days turn into a few weeks, and before long they’ve forgotten all about it.

We have seen the devastation ‘putting it off’ causes.

Many families have been in our office facing considerable hardship and worry because they hadn’t gotten around to their estate planning. They had intended to do it but never got started.

Having seen and experienced the pain and suffering of those left behind I urge you not to delay this important task.

Call our office without delay and rest easy that everything is taken care of.

As we said above, if you have children,
this review is CRITICAL.

Should you and your spouse die together, the issues of who will look after your
children, and how their new guardians can use your estate to fund
their upbringing are not clear cut.

This is one of the issues we will address during your Estate Planning Review.

Don’t delay. Call us on 9445 9200 and book your review immediately.

What They Say About Us

I have used Your LegalHQ as first port of call when I get into any dispute and for the preparation of a number of business related documents over the years.  I recommend them to anyone with commercial legal issues who wants a fresh, commercial approach and advice they can actually understand.

John Ward, Director, Quick Impressions

2015-04-22T03:36:26+00:00

John Ward, Director, Quick Impressions

I have used Your LegalHQ as first port of call when I get into any dispute and for the preparation of a number of business related documents over the years.  I recommend them to anyone with commercial legal issues who wants a fresh, commercial approach and advice they can actually understand.
I met Lindsay Ahern from Your LegalHQ for advice on some difficult tax questions involving both Australian and Irish law.  The way the answers rolled out astonished me and she had no hesitation advising me that in respect of certain impertinent questions from a London solicitor, I was free to tell him to mind his own bloody business.

Brian Pringle, Claremont

2015-04-18T08:39:17+00:00

Brian Pringle, Claremont

I met Lindsay Ahern from Your LegalHQ for advice on some difficult tax questions involving both Australian and Irish law.  The way the answers rolled out astonished me and she had no hesitation advising me that in respect of certain impertinent questions from a London solicitor, I was free to tell him to mind his own bloody business.
Cameron from Your LegalHQ has been a valuable sounding board for legal and commercial issues I have had to face.  I was particularly impressed by the total lack of “legal speak” and the practical commercial mind that he brings to the table.  I’ll be using Your LegalHQ for my next document drafting job and recommend them without hesitation.

Emma Driscoll, Director, Coaching Combinations

2015-04-18T07:38:37+00:00

Emma Driscoll, Director, Coaching Combinations

Cameron from Your LegalHQ has been a valuable sounding board for legal and commercial issues I have had to face.  I was particularly impressed by the total lack of “legal speak” and the practical commercial mind that he brings to the table.  I’ll be using Your LegalHQ for my next document drafting job and recommend them without hesitation.

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