It is easy to overlook the need for regular reviews of your estate planning needs, including your will.  To assist you, please consider the following issues.

  1. Wills should be reviewed when any major event occurs in your life such as marriage (in most cases marriages revokes an earlier will), divorce, children, grandchildren, or a new business.
  2. It is a good idea to review wills in any event at least every 5 years.
  3. Superannuation entitlements are not automatically part of your estate, and so cannot be disposed of by your will. You need to ensure that the trustee of your superannuation fund is provided with a binding direction as to how to deal with your superannuation entitlement on your death. It is also important to ensure your superannuation entitlement is left to your beneficiaries in the most tax-effective way.
  4. Similarly, assets in family trusts are not part of your estate.  You need to think about who will control your trust on your death as the controller of the trust has a discretionary power to dispose of income and assets in the trust.
  5. You should think about who you provide for in your will, and whether you have adequately provided for those members of your family who may have an expectation that they will share in your estate.  Disputes involving wills can eat into the assets of the estate and cause a lot of distress for your surviving family.
  6. If you own a business, confirm that you have made adequate arrangements which will allow the business to pass to your beneficiaries so that its value and operational ability of the business are optimised after your death. This may be provided for in your will, or in an agreement that governs how the assets and control of the business will be dealt with on your death.
  7. Consider a tax-effective will.  For example, if you have a large estate (or if your beneficiaries already earn income in a high tax bracket) it is worth thinking about incorporating a discretionary testamentary trust in your will.
  8. Parents of a child with a disability might wish to consider a testamentary trust as a way to invest assets for their child and address the future care of their child.
  9. Discretionary testamentary trusts can also assist in protecting assets from claims by creditors of beneficiaries and from estranged spouses in the case of matrimonial disputes.
  • With regard to points 7, 8 and 9, you can find out more about discretionary testamentary trusts in the enclosed information sheet: ‘A closer look at discretionary testamentary trusts’.

If you wish to discuss any aspect of estate planning then please contact partners@pigott.com.au.

This article is intended to provide general information in summary form on a legal topic, current at the time of publication.  The contents do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Formal legal advice should be sought in specific circumstances.