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Wills and Estate Planning

Wills and Estate Planning

When do I need to consider a will? What is the effect of leaving this world without one?

General Information On Wills

Why Do you need a Will?

  1. Make the most difficult time for loved ones easier.
  2. Name who takes care of your children.
  3. Prevent bitter family battles. This is especially important if there has been a second marriage.
  4. Simplify the legal process.
  5. Name who gets your assets. If you do not name your beneficiaries, the law has a fixed formula for distribution of your assets.
  6. Prevent confusion.
  7. Protect the family home or business.
  8. Minimize legal costs.
  9. Eliminate cost for an administrator bond.
  10. Give consideration to your personal choices.

MATTERS OF CONCERN

  1. Do not leave it till later. DO IT NOW. Obtain peace of mind by preparing your will as soon as possible.
  2. If you die without a Will, all your money and possessions (your Estate) will be distributed according to strict legal rules and regulations. These rules are called the Laws of Intestacy. In many cases the Intestacy Laws distribute an Estate in a way the deceased would not have wanted, sometimes with disastrous results.
  3. In the event of the death of a married person the Intestacy rules divide the Estate into shares with a share going to the surviving husband or wife (the spouse). The amount a spouse can inherit is restricted to an amount set by the government. The popular belief that a spouse automatically inherits everything is simply not true.
  4. If there are no surviving members of your family then the whole Estate would go to the Crown (Government). You can imagine the possible nightmare you could leave if you die without a Will. Many people who don’t have close family would want their Estate to go to close friends or a charity rather than the Government or unknown relations.
  5. Who to select as a trustee of your will? The trustee should be one you trust to put your wishes to effect. The trustee should also be well versed in financial matters.
  6. Anyone whose circumstances have changed — perhaps through marriage, the birth of children, divorce, remarriage, or the death of a close relative, for example — should make a new Will.
  7. If you get married, any Will you made when single/divorced is revoked (cancelled). There are some exceptions to this, but it is always advisable to make a new Will after marriage.

FOR US TO PREPARE YOUR WILL, THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS ARE MOST IMPORTANT:

  1. WHO WILL BE MY TRUSTEE?
  2. WHO WILL LOOK AFTER MY YOUNG CHILDREN?
  3. WHO DO I LEAVE MY PROPERTIES TO?

Why Should I Make A Will?
A will is essential if you are concerned about who will receive your assets and belongings after you die. It is especially important to make a will if you have a family or other dependants.

Even if you are married with dependants you will still need a will. If a husband and wife are killed together, for instance in a motor accident, the older person is presumed to have died first. If you were the younger person, you might have inherited assets from your spouse – even though you were dead – but if you had not made a will your assets would be distributed under a rigid formula regardless of what you might wish. This rigid formula is set by the Laws of Western Australia and called the Administration Act 1903.

What happens if I don’t make a will?
The legal procedures are more complicated and time consuming and may cause expense, worry and even hardship to your family.

The law provides a formula which sets out who is entitled to the property of a deceased person who does not leave a will. The formula may force you to distribute your assets in a way you would not have wanted. The biggest problem is that if there is no will, then the family has to agree on appointing a representative to handle the deceased’s estate.

Sometimes the family members cannot agree and family members then start squabbling leading to family break ups. The other problem is that you need all family members to consent to the appointment of the representative. The consents may have to be obtained from family members who are scattered to the 4 corners of the world.

It is not true that the Government takes a deceased person’s property if there is no will. This can happen only in exceptional cases where there are no close relatives or persons in a family relationship surviving the deceased.

What is a will?
A will is a legal document that names the people you want to receive the property and possessions you own at the date of your death.

These people are known as your beneficiaries. Your property and possessions include everything you own: your home, land, car, money in bank accounts, insurance policies, shares, jewellery, pictures, furniture, and so on. Making a will is the only way you can ensure your assets will be distributed in the way you want after you die.

The will should also state who you appoint as your representative to carry out your wishes in the distribution of your assets. That representative is known as the Executor.

Your representative should be some one you trust explicitly. The representative should also be financially savvy as he or she may have to invest the estate’s money. We suggest you email any queries you may have regarding wills.

As an introductory offer, Tan and Tan prepare wills for a fixed sum of $120.00 if the referral is from this website.

To Cut A Long Story Short…
We acted for a 70 year widower whose wife died without leaving a will. Prior to his wife’s death, our client and his wife had bought certain properties in their son’s name. The son was in the process of transferring the properties back to our client and his wife at the request of our client’s wife.

However the wife of our client died prior to the agreed transfer. Our client then had to sue his own natural son because his son refused to acknowledge that the properties belonged to our client and his wife. Our client was forced to endure 6 gruelling days of cross examination in the Supreme Court regarding his financial and family background. It was a lucky thing our client did not die during the process.

We won the case but at a great price to our client. His family had totally disintegrated as a result of his children fighting each other because of the failure of his wife to prepare a will. His fatherly love for his wayward son probably broke his heart even though he won the court case. Moral of the story: Make sure you prepare a will as families have broken up in many instances because of greed.

On the Light Side…
An engineer dies and reports to hell. Pretty soon, the engineer gets dissatisfied with the level of comfort in hell, and starts designing and building improvements. After a while, they’ve got air conditioning and flush toilets and escalators, and the engineer is a pretty popular guy.

One day God calls Satan up on the telephone and says with a sneer, “So, how’s it going down there in hell?”

Satan replies, “Hey things are going great. We’ve got air conditioning and flush toilets and escalators, and there’s no telling what this engineer is going to come up with next.”

God replies, “What??? You’ve got an engineer? That’s a mistake — he should never have gotten down there; send him up here.”

Satan says, “No way. I like having an engineer on the staff, and I’m keeping him.” God says, “Send him back up here or I’ll sue.”

Satan laughs uproariously and answers, “Yeah, right. And just where are you going to get a lawyer? They all come here!!