Estate planning is all about making sure your assets are passed on to your chosen beneficiaries in the best and most tax-effective way possible.
Your Will outlines what you would like to happen to the assets that you solely own. But it doesn't cover assets that you jointly own (like real-estate or a business), superannuation and insurance payments and assets in family trusts. These assets also need to be considered when you are planning for the future and are more complicated to distribute than assets in a "simple" Will.
There are also a number of personal, family and business scenarios where careful estate planning is very important - including managing inheritances for dependents with addictions or special needs, for blended families and where family relationships are broken.
Over the last 50 years, we have helped hundreds of people living in the North Eastern suburbs of Melbourne to plan their estate and ensure their wishes are carried out. We are the recommended legal partner for many accountants and financial planners in the region, and work closely with them to protect our clients and their beneficiaries' best interests.
How we help
Tonkin Legal Partner, Shane Williams leads our Estate Planning practice. It is Shane's job to recommend the best way to structure your estate to ensure your wishes are carried out in the most effective manner possible - and to make this happen.
Getting expert estate planning advice is particularly important if you:
- have dependents with special needs or beneficiaries who have issues with excessive drinking, drugs, gambling, spending problems or with creditors they owe money to or who are getting divorced, then you need to think about the best way for them to receive their share of your estate
- have a blended family with children from other relationships or are concerned about what might happen if your partner re-marries after your death, then you need to consider how to ensure your wishes are carried out
- own a business, you need to consider what happens to your share when you die
- have a family trust, you need to determine what happens to the control of the trust and the assets contained in the trust
- have a significant portfolio of assets, you need to consider how to minimise the tax implications of inheritance for your beneficiaries
- think it is likely that someone is not going to be happy with your wishes and may make a claim against your estate, you need to plan carefully to ensure your wishes are carried out
- If you would like to leave a significant portion of your estate to charity, you need to think about the best way to do this.
Depending on your personal situation, planning your estate might involve:
- setting up a Family Trust to hold your family's assets in order to protect these assets and minimise tax
- setting up a Testamentary Trust, where trustees manage the distribution of some or all of your estate to your beneficiaries after you die
- preparing or updating your Will to reflect your estate plans
- changing asset ownership to ensure seamless transfer on your death.
1. Meet with us
We start this process by organising a meeting with Shane Williams, who leads our Wills and Estate Planning Team.
This meeting is all about getting to know you and your personal and financial situation.
We will gather information about your relationships, your children and family and consider their future needs. We will also need to understand your portfolio of assets, including cash in the bank, family trusts, shares, property and business ownership, superannuation assets and insurance coverage - and what you would like to happen to them.
You need to bring the following items to the meeting:
- Full details of your assets and liabilities, with documentation and valuation if possible
- Your plans for how and to whom you want your estate to be distributed.
At the meeting, Shane will clearly explain the various options and structures available to you in order to achieve your objectives.
This first meeting will cost $450 (including GST) and takes about an hour.
2. Prepare a cost estimate
Based on the discussions about your personal and financial situation and information gathered at our first meeting, we will then prepare a cost estimate which clearly explains our recommended approach and the cost associated with implementing these estate planning recommendations.
3. Set up structures and prepare documents
Once you have approved the cost estimate, we will implement the recommendations. This will include setting up the best legal structures and documents to ensure your estate is passed on to your chosen beneficiaries in the best way possible, working closely with your accountant or financial advisor as necessary.
4. Signing meeting
We then organise a final meeting to sign your legal documents. We will then safely and securely store them for you. We provide you with a copy of these important documents for your files. It is a good idea to also give a copy to the Executor of your Will.