Estate planning involves developing a plan or strategy to deal with your assets and personal matters in the event that you lose mental capacity and are unable to make decisions or if you pass away.
In the Northern Territory, if you were to pass away without a will, you are said to have died ‘intestate’ and your estate will be distributed under the rules of intestacy set out in the Administration and Probate Act (NT).
We advise our clients that the best way to ensure your assets and personal belongings go to the people you want to receive them is to have an estate plan in place.
An estate plan can include any or all of the following:
- A Will
Your will appoints an executor of your estate (ie: a person or people to collect the assets of the estate, pay any liabilities and distribute proceeds to the beneficiaries). It will also nominate who your beneficiaries are and how your assets are to be distributed to those beneficiaries. Your will may also address the appointment of guardians for minor children, the appointment of controllers/guardians of a family trust, stipulate your wishes with regards to your funeral/burial/cremation and other matters.
- A power of attorney
A power of attorney is the legal appointment of a person or people to manage your affairs and act on your behalf while you are alive.
- An Advance Personal Plan (formerly known as enduring powers of attorney)
An Advance Personal Plan is a type of power of attorney that will only come into effect in the event that you lose decision-making ability. Your appointed attorneys would have the ability to make decisions on your behalf including for matters such as health care, living arrangements and financial matters.
- Binding Death Benefit nominations for superannuation
A legally binding nomination that allows you to nominate to your superannuation trustee who you would like to receive your superannuation benefit when you pass away.
- Nominations of beneficiaries for life insurance or disability payouts
Similar to Superannuation nominations, you can nominate to your insurer who you wish to receive the benefit of any life insurance payouts.
- The appointment of a “guardian” or “appointor” under family or discretionary trusts
Generally, a trust deed will contain a ‘power of appointment’ if the current ‘guardian’ or ‘appointor’ of the trust dies or loses capacity. It is not unusual however that a trust deed be silent on such matters. This would need to be addressed as part of the estate plan to ensure continuity of the trust.
Each estate plan will be unique. When assisting you to design an effective estate plan we would take into account your family structure and the nature of your assets and investments, amongst other things, and then work out the most effective means to ensure that your assets go to those you have nominated while minimizing the risk of any challenges to the estate and reducing tax payable by the estate.
Should you require any assistance with regards to estate planning please contact us on 89416355 to book an appointment or contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The above summary is based on the law as at 28 August 2020.
It covers the relevant legal matter in a general way and is intended for information purposes only rather than as specific legal advice.
Bowden McCormack does not assume any duty of care in relation to this document and specific advice should be sought and obtained in relation to one’s own circumstances before taking any action on the matter addressed in the summary