In simple terms, estate planning or succession planning is a way to ensure your estate is managed and distributed efficiently–and as per your wishes–when you die. Estate planning includes a valid Will, but proper estate planning covers a lot more than just a Will. Every adult should have a Will, but the larger and more complex your estate and family circumstances are, the more reason you have for a carefully thought-out estate or succession plan. Even more so when your estate includes a family farm or business.

Estate Planning & Incapacity

Loosing mental capacity or becoming otherwise impaired later in life is not something many of us think about or plan for. But accidents, illnesses and even age can change that. Proper estate planning allows you to make provision for incapacity–either temporary or permanent–should you ever loose mental capacity. This is done by making appointments of Enduring Power of Attorney and appointments of Enduring Guardian as part of your estate planning. Both are necessary since each deal with specific aspects of your life should you loose the ability to make your own decisions. The person assigned Power of Attorney is able to make decisions relating to your financial and legal affairs, while the Enduring Guardian may make decisions relating to your medical treatment, welfare, and lifestyle.

Estate Planning & Your Business

An easily overlooked consideration when drawing up your Will is that of farms or businesses you may own. Effective estate planning will see you outline exactly what is to happen to the farm or business upon your death or incapacity. This includes whether they are sold or passed on to beneficiaries and who succeeds you in whatever role you held in the business. If the business is sold, the proceeds of the sale becomes part of your general estate. Where they are passed on to beneficiaries, you need to know that they are willing to take on the responsibility of keeping them operational. While for larger businesses with a board, your plan for succession should be discussed and agreed to by the board.

Estate Planning & Taxes

Other than helping to avoid family provision claims while ensuring your estate is distributed exactly as you planned, estate planning can also help reduce the tax liabilities of your estate. How this is achieved depends on a number of factors, with solicitors specialising in estate and succession planning best positioned to offer advice on your unique circumstances.

Keeping Your Plans Up to Date

Ideally, anyone with a Will needs to revise their Will periodically to ensure it accounts for all their assets and beneficiaries and continues to reflect their wishes. But since estate and succession planning goes into much more detail, it should be revisited every few years and updated as needed. This includes making provisions for new beneficiaries as your family grows, reassessing the fair distribution of your estate, and possibly adding requirements for trusts as your estate grows. It also means looking at who is named as executor of your estate, and your appointments of Enduring Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardian and amending if necessary.

Estate and succession planning cover so much more than the distribution of your assets upon your death. The solicitors at Nash Allen Williams & Wotton have decades of experience advising on and assisting with all aspects of estate planning in NSW. From large–but uncomplicated–estates, through to highly complex estates.