Update Your Will

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As you may recall from previous S&W Insights, succession planning is crucial, and we frequently advise reviewing and updating your Will periodically to align with evolving circumstances.

Bill Stanley’s mother-in-law died recently at 93 years of age, after 3 years in a nursing home with dementia. Fortunately, the family had taken our advice, and her Will had been updated before her losing her competency to do so. This event has again focused on updating Wills when circumstances change.

Plenty of events should lead you to consider the potential effect on your estate plans. These include ill health, divorce, marriage, de facto relationships and the birth of children or grandchildren.

In our experience in this area, the common issues which are overlooked in the preparation of, or planning of, Wills are:

  1. Assets held in Family Discretionary Trusts do not form a part of your Estate, so you cannot will them to others. Care is required regarding the power of appointment and removal of trustees of the Trust to effect your wishes.
  2. Who will become the director of the companies your Estate will be interested in?
  3. Family Businesses need careful thought as to their continuing future and control.
  4. Superannuation proceeds require Binding Death Benefits nominations. Care is needed regarding the tax consequences to avoid or minimise the death tax.
  5. The need for testamentary trusts to protect your intended beneficiaries against personal or business risk and minimise tax in minors’ hands.
  6. Recognition that specific bequests of particular assets, subject in due course on eventual sale, to Capital Gains Tax in the beneficiaries’ hands can mean that your apportionment of assets between beneficiaries does not end up as you intended.
  7. Enduring powers of attorney to cover financial matters, power of guardianship regarding lifestyle and health and wishes regarding donation of organs and funeral arrangements.

There are many twists and turns in Wills and Estate Planning, so the above are only examples to raise your awareness, not an exhaustive list.

Do not put this off. Contact us promptly if you think your existing Will needs to be updated so that we can assist in clarifying matters with your solicitor.

*Correct as of April 2015

Disclaimer – Kreston Stanley Williamson has produced this article to serve its clients and associates. The information contained in the article is of general comment only and is not intended to be advice on any particular matter. Before acting on any areas in this article, you must seek advice about your circumstances. Liability is limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

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