Protecting Your Estate // One Of Your Biggest Goals

Each new year brings with it new challenges, goals and aspirations. One challenge/goal that can easily be ticked off the list is to get your affairs in order by arranging your estate documents.

Estate documents include your will, powers of attorney and superannuation/life insurance nominations and it can also include financial/taxation advice and planning.

These documents and advice should be reviewed every 5 years but especially if your circumstances have changed such as you have separated from your partner, divorced, married, someone listed in the will has passed away, you start a company or change your trust beneficiaries or trustee and so on.

WILLS

A will is a statement of wishes by you to the people you care the most about. It tells those you love how you wish for estate to be managed and distributed after your passing.

There are a few important matters to consider when preparing a will.

EXECUTOR

This is the person or persons responsible for administering your estate in accordance with your wishes in your will. This person is responsible for ensuring that your assets are distributed to your beneficiaries and, therefore, should be someone you trust.

The role of an executor is a large responsibility, and it is recommended that you discuss the role with the person you wish to appoint to make sure they feel comfortable with the role.

It is also recommended that you consider appointing an alternative executor should the person you wish to appoint first is unable to act for your estate at the time of your passing. This will allow for longevity of your will.

BENEFICIARIES

This is the person or persons who you wish to receive a portion or all of your estate assets. When considering the assets or funds they may receive, you will need to consider their age and their capacity to manage those funds. If they are under 18 years of age, the executor of your estate will be trusted to manage those funds until the beneficiary reaches a certain age. You may also consider empowering the executor to use those funds and apply them for the maintenance and benefit of that minor beneficiary (for example to pay for schooling fees or buy them a car).

You should also consider alternative beneficiaries should your chosen recipients not be able to receive your benefits.

DISTRIBUTION OF YOUR ASSETS TO YOUR BENEFICIARIES

You will need to know how your assets are currently held. For example, if you own real estate jointly with another person then, through the principles of survivorship, that joint owner will become the sole owner of the property and your 50% share of the property will not form part of the assets of your will. In the future, and upon the passing of the joint owner, the full value of the property will form part of the joint owners estate and will be distributed in accordance with their own will.

Please note that if the property is held as tenants in common, then your share of the property shall form part of your will and be distributed in accordance with your will. Although, you will also need to consider how the property is currently being used between you and the other co-owner (for example, are they currently residing in the property, do you wish for them to continue to reside in the property after your passing).

When considering what assets will be transferred to which beneficiary, you may wish to consider leaving a specific item (such as a family heirloom or jewelry) or a monetary amount to certain persons.

GUARDIANS

For any minor children under 18 years of age, you will need to consider who will care for them after your passing. This may be your spouse, partner, eldest child, aunt, uncle and so on.

When considering who to appoint, you will also need to consider that the guardian will be solely responsible for managing the affairs of your children and will use the assets of your estate to pay for the maintenance, education and support of your children. You will also need to consider any shared custody arrangements and any alternative guardians should your appointed guardian not be able to care for the minor children.

You may also wish to consider your wishes in relation to where your children will live and go to school.

We note that a person appointed as guardian in the will does not automatically authorise them to be guardian. Your appointed guardian will still be required to obtain an Order from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) appointing them as legal guardian.

WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE IS NO WILL?

Without a valid will in place, your estate falls into the laws of intestacy. Your next of kin is then responsible for the administration of your estate and any specific wishes or protections a will could provide are not possible under the laws of intestacy.

A valid will shall also assist your loved ones in administering your estate in accordance with your wishes.

POWERS OF ATTORNEY

A Power of Attorney is a person appointed by you to manage your financial, personal and medical affairs whilst you are still alive, but you no longer have capacity to make your own decisions.

Your incapacity can only be determined by a doctor.

This person is responsible for managing your entire estate and it is highly recommended that the person or persons you appoint are people that you trust completely.

Without your powers of attorney documents in place, for your financial and personal affairs, your loved ones would need to apply for a Guardianship Order from VCAT in order to manage your affairs.

For your medical matters, the doctors would speak with your loved ones and ask for their opinions, however, the doctors will ultimately make the final decision which may be against your wishes.

SUPERANNUATION

Your superannuation is an asset largely forgotten about. What most do not realise is that your super does not automatically form part of the pool of assets to be distributed in accordance with your will.

Your superfund can only distribute your super to the following authorised recipients:

  1. Spouse,
  2. Children
  3. Anyone financial dependent upon you; and
  4. Your legal personal representative (ie your estate).

If you wish for someone who is not a spouse or dependent to benefit from your estate (such as a friend, niece or nephew) then the super would need to be given to your legal representative so that it becomes part of your pool of assets to be distributed through your will.

In order for your super to distributed to your intended recipients, you will need to complete and lodge with your superfund a binding death benefit nomination. Without such nomination, your superfund will decide where the funds are distributed by reviewing your estate in light of the above category of authorise recipients.  This may be against your wishes.

Please note that a binding death benefit nomination can be lapsing and non-lapsing. Generally, a retail superfund will have a lapsing nomination which means the binding nomination becomes non-binding on the superfund after a period of time (generally 3 years). You would be required to lodge a new nomination every 3 years for it to continue to be binding.

We recommend speaking with your superfund or a financial advisor about what type of nominations your superfunds provide and whether any current nomination is binding.

INSURANCE

Another consideration in your estate planning is whether you have any life insurance in place. This may be included with your super or may be outside your super. There are benefits and negatives of each option.

If you have a life insurance policy in place it is recommend you review the amount you have been insured for and whether it is sufficient. You will also need to consider who you wish to benefit from your life insurance policy.

Similar to your super, your life insurance benefit does not automatically form part of the pool of assets to be distributed in accordance with your will. You will need to lodge a binding death benefit nomination with your insurer to ensure the benefit of the policy will pass to your intended beneficiary.

 

If you are in need of a review of your estate or wish to start the process of putting your estate documents in place, our skilled team of lawyers will be able to assist you.

HomeBuilder Grant

In June 2020, as part of its economic response to Coronavirus, the Australian Government announced its HomeBuilder Grant.  The purpose of which is to assist in the continuation of the construction industry through employment of trades and to maintain or increase the property market.

So, what is it all about?

The Grant provides eligible owner-occupiers with a grant of $25,000 to build a new home or to substantially renovate an existing home.  Owner-occupier refers to someone living in or intending to immediately live in a property as their main residence.

Here’s what you need to know if you are eligible…

LAND BUYERS / VACANT LAND / OFF-THE-PLAN BUILDS

The grant is available to owners who own land or are buying land and intend to build a home on the property as their main residence. Criteria each owner must meet:

  1. Be a natural person (ie not a company or trust)
  2. Be over 18 years old
  3. Are an Australian citizen
  4. The property is your main residence
  5. You are not an owner-builder
  6. You meet one of the following two income caps:
    1. INDIVIDUAL APPLICATION // no more than $125,000 per annum based on your 2018/19 taxable income OR
    2. COUPLE APPLICATION // no more than a combined value of $200,000 per annum based on your 2018/19 taxable income
  7. The building contract was signed between the 4th June 2020 and 31st December 2020
  8. Construction must begin within three months of the building contract signing date
  9. The builder cannot be a relative (must be an arm’s length transaction between unrelated parties)
  10. The property value (house and land) must not exceed $750,000

BONUS – this Grant is an additional monetary payment to the First Home Builders Grant for first home owners!

SUBSTANTIAL RENOVATIONS // Homeowners are eligible for the Grant if they enter into a building contract for works that will significantly improve their property but not for works that would be viewed as repairs to the home.  Criteria each owner must meet:

  1. Be a natural person (ie. not a company or trust)
  2. Be over 18 years old
  3. Are an Australian citizen
  4. The property is your main residence
  5. You are not an owner-builder
  6. You meet one of the following two income caps:
    1. INDIVIDUAL APPLICATION // no more than $125,000 per annum based on your 2018/19 taxable income OR
    2. COUPLE APPLICATION // no more than a combined value of $200,000 per annum based on your 2018/19 taxable income
  7. The building contract was signed between the 4th June 2020 and 31st December 2020
  8. Construction must begin within three months of the building contract signing date
  9. The builder cannot be a relative (must be an arm’s length transaction between unrelated parties)
  10. The contract price must be between $150,000 and $750,000
  11. The property value before the renovations must not exceed $1.5 million
  12. The works must be in connection with the dwelling (ie swimming pools, stand along garages and granny flats do not apply)

PROCESS + TIMING OF PAYMENT // Applications for the Grant are not yet available.  For new builds, the grant will be paid in line with the timing of payments for First Home Owner Grants, or at the discretion of their state and territory.

For substantial renovations, the grant will be paid once at least $150,000 of the contract price has been paid for the renovation.

ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS // While all States and Territories have signed the National Partnership Agreement for the Grant to proceed, each State and Territory through their relative Revenue Office’s (or equivalent) will be setting their own guidelines and framework for applications and these may slightly alter the criteria above.

Please do not hesitate to contact our friendly legal team should you wish to discuss the Home Builder Grant further.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Watch this space – SRO – https://www.sro.vic.gov.au/owning-property/australian-homebuilder-grant

Australian Government – https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/homebuilder

 

Katherine Taylor – Solicitor

BCriminology (History), LLB

 

Estate Planning.. Not Just For The Wealthy!

Estate planning, or ‘life planning’ as we call it, isn’t just a tool for wealthy families.  Estate planning is useful for all of us, many of us accumulate a substantial estate reflecting a lifetime commitment to work.  It is our interest and our family’s that we don’t waste unnecessary money on tax or expose your hard-earned assets to potential risks and otherwise accommodate families to future conflicts and disputes.

Life planning covers your future estate, assets, and tax planning.  Generally, the easiest place to start is with your Will.  Your will is central to your estate plan, and there are mechanisms which can be included in your will to ensure that your family are all adequately provided for.

You can choose a simple Will or a testamentary discretionary trust, which is a special type of discretionary trust that is created by a person’s Will.  The Trust comes into existence after the will-maker dies.  Instead of passing the assets directly to the beneficiary, the executor transfers the assets into a discretionary trust to be held by a separate trustee for the benefit of the beneficiary (and a general class of beneficiaries).

There are a number of benefits that come with the creation of a testamentary discretionary trust, some of which include:

1. TAX PLANNING

An advantage of a testamentary discretionary trust is that the trustee of the trust can stream the income earned from the trust assets through to a class of beneficiaries in the most tax-effective way.  This usually includes immediate family members such as children.

2. ASSET PROTECTION

When a testamentary discretionary trust holds assets, your beneficiaries are protected from being at risk of personal liability such as from creditor claims, the application of bankruptcy or family law claims.  This is because the trustee has legal ownership and uses their discretion to distribute any income or capital to the beneficiaries and until they receive that share, they do not own the asset.

3. PROTECTION OF GOVERNMENT ENTITLEMENTS

Finally, if your beneficiary is receiving Centrelink entitlements now or in the future, trust structures can be used to preserve those entitlements, reflecting separate ownership.

All estate planning solutions need to be tailored to your personal circumstances.  For personalised estate planning advice and to organise an initial meeting with one of our legal team, please contact us.

 

Kayla Kennedy – Solicitor

LLB

Contracts Can Be Cruel!

You found the perfect property, the vendor and their agent have been amazing, friendly, flexible and have been open to all of your requests through the negotiation stage.  Sounds to good to be true?  It might just be!

If you’re thinking about purchasing a property, do not take the word of the vendor or their agent.  The details of any negotiations are in the pages of the contract.  As stated by Ronald Regal – “trust, but verify”.

Conveyancing has gone through significant changes over the past 5-10 years.  Processes and legislation have modified and, subsequently, so to has the contract of sale.  Gone are the days of fairness and equality in a contract, with contracts now re-written to solely protect the vendor leaving the contract reflecting a ‘no vendor liability’ or ‘take it or leave it’ status.  Further, as the property market expands and there is more interest surrounding a property, you may feel pressured to sign on the dotted line without first obtaining advice.

A contract reflects the negotiations between you and the vendor.  A standard clause now placed in contracts is that the contract is the entire agreement and you will not be able to rely on any promises, assurances or agreements made by the vendor or their agent unless that are inserted into the contract.  It is, therefore, very important that all negotiations with the vendor are disclosed and inserted into the contract.

It is also important for the contract to be reviewed so you are aware of your obligations.  The worst contracts will see you not being able to make any claims against the vendor for damage caused by the vendor or for their failures to comply with building regulations or contamination of the land.  Further, the penalties applied for delayed settlements, delayed paperwork and requests for finance approval extensions can make for a very expensive exercise.

A further catch is when an agent asks for you to sign the contract as a way to secure your offer to the vendor, but, you have not yet had the contract reviewed and amendments may be required.  The agent may then provide this to the vendor and, if accepted, the contract becomes binding.

Amendments to the contract are part of the negotiations and should be completed prior to your signing any contract.  You may be able to reply on the 3-day cooling off period, but, it is best to speak with our office in this regard.

If you need any advice in relation to your purchase or potential purchase, please get in touch with us and we would be happy to assist you!

 

Katherine Taylor – Solicitor

BCriminology (History), LLB

[Sub]Divide + Conquer

The subdivision and development of your land is an excellent way to make a profit on the assets you currently have. As always, there a few matters that need to be considered prior to diving into this potentially lengthy process.

SO… Is your land suitable?

Your ability to subdivide and develop your land depends largely on whether the property is suitable in terms of size, location and zoning.

When your Council is considering a subdivision application they will examine the size of the land, if the property is subject to zoning or planning overlays that may restrict or prohibit subdivisions, and will compare these with their development strategy for the area. They may impose conditions if the subdivision would affect natural resources, environmental areas and biodiversity, land use, heritage and infrastructure. They may refuse the application if it is not within their development strategy. As a first step, speaking with Council will give you an idea of their requirements and if the property is suitable.

WHO PREPARES THE APPLICATION + how is the plan of subdivision created?

As well as speaking with Council, we recommended you also speak with a land surveyor. The role of a surveyor is to dive deeper into the property’s suitability. They will examine the property, determine is suitability, assess the most appropriate way to subdivide the land, create a new plan of subdivision, work with Council and external sub-contractors to ensure all conditions are satisfied to obtain the statement of compliance from Council and to submit the subdivision application to our office for registration.

WHAT’S NEXT… Once the Council have given the tick of approval?

Once all the conditions of the subdivision are satisfied and Council have provided their statement of compliance, we [ie. your legal team] will attend to the registration of the plan of subdivision. As part of this application, we lodge a summary form to the Titles office with copies of the plan of subdivision documents. We will also obtain the lender’s consent to the subdivision if there is an existing mortgage over the property.

WHAT HAPPENS… once the plan of subdivision has registered?

Once the subdivision has registered, new certificates of titles will be issued for the new pieces of land. If there is any common property in the new plan of subdivision [such as a common driveway] an owner’s corporation [as known as a body corporate] will be established and they will own that particular piece of land. You will also need to consider the management and maintenance of that common area.

HOW LONG… will the subdivision process take?

The time frame for the development and subdivision of the land will vary depending on the work to be completed on the property, including whether or not buildings will be constructed.  However, you can generally expect that a subdivision process can take between 12-18 months to finalise from start to finish.

WHAT ELSE… might you need to consider?

  • HOME DESIGN if you intend to construct houses on the subdivided land as part of the development we recommend speaking with a builder and/or architect to discuss potential home designs. The proposed plan of subdivision may limit your design options.
  • FINANCE: the subdivision of land can be a costly exercise. It is a good idea to enquire into the costs involved in the development and discuss these with your accountant, broker/lender and a financial advisor.

Below is a summary of the costs you can expect to pay for a 2-lot subdivision:

Council Fees $3,000
Council Levies $15,000
Surveyor Fees $10,000
External Subcontractors $40,000
Builders/Architects $600,000

(based on construction of two homes valued at $300,000 each)

Legal Fees $1,200 – $2,000
TOTAL ESTIMATE $669,200.00

*The above is an estimate only. The final cost is dependent upon the property, the development and the costs set by Council, the surveyor and the external contractors.

  • STRUCTURE OF OWNERSHIP: If you are entering into a subdivision project with others, you should also consider how you should own the property [ie. personally or within a trust/company structure], and how contributions, expenses and distributions are managed. Our legal and accounting teams can advise on this based on your individual plans and circumstances.
  • SALE OF SUBDIVIDED PROPERTY: If you intend to sell the developed land, you will need to further consider your Capital Gains Tax [CGT] and Goods and Services Tax [GST] obligations. We recommend speaking with your accountant in this regard.

If you are interested in learning more, please do not hesitate to contact one of our friendly property lawyers.

 

Katherine Taylor – Solicitor

BCriminology (History), LLB

Young Money – Estate Planning For Millennials

We understand life is busy, whether you are studying full-time, travelling the world or thriving in your career.  Like most of us, the last thing on many young peoples’ minds are what will happen to their assets if they were to pass away suddenly.

And what assets do young people have to be worried about?  Aside from personal items, many will be thinking that all they have is some money in the bank, personal items, and maybe, a first home with minimal equity. However, many don’t consider their superannuation fund as a personal asset worth worrying about, but we all should.

Superannuation is one of those assets that many people just set and forget.  Your superannuation can be your most valuable asset, particularly as a young person, when, although the balance of actual super you have accrued is minimal, the automatic life insurance attaching to many retail and industry superannuation funds may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.  This will form part of your ‘superannuation death benefit’ should you pass away.

Most superannuation funds allow their members to nominate who will receive their death benefit [accumulated super and life insurance] upon their death.  What is often not communicated by the super fund, is that superannuation law only allows a limited category of persons to benefit from your superannuation fund.  Those people are a spouse or de facto partner, children or your estate [distributed by your will].

So, what happens if you don’t have a partner or children?  Well by putting in place a simple Will, you can nominate your estate by completing a death benefit nomination, and by your will you can then distribute this significant asset to third parties [for example, to parents, siblings, friends or charities].

We also know that whilst you may know and understand that you need a will, you just don’t have the time [or inclination] for multiple appointments with a lawyer during business hours to get it done.  We like doing things differently here and have recently developed an online Will service to provide a reliable and accurate will for those with straightforward circumstances who want to prepare a will on their terms.  Our Off The Rack will option is fully autonomous and can be completed anytime and anywhere [ie. on your couch in trackies at 9pm with a glass of wine in-hand] and your document is delivered to your inbox within one business day.  We also have our Tailored will option which combines online preparation with a short appointment with our lawyers to finalise and sign it, and of course, should you want the piece of mind of a fully custom will with detailed advice, our Bespoke will option is also available.

Visit https://www.cannygroup.com.au/wills/ to find out more or to get your will started, and if you’re not sure which option is right for you, complete the short questionnaire to point you in the right direction.

Powers of Attorney are another vital element of estate planning that are generally overlooked by young people. Download our free Seven Essentials of Estate Planning Guide, or look out for a future bulletin to learn more.

 

Kayla Kennedy – Solicitor

LLB

Superannuation Nominations – Make It Legit!

Don’t be trapped by the pitfalls of superannuation nominations – make it legit!

Have your circumstances changed recently?  Have you married, separated, divorced, had kids, or are your kids now over 18 years old?  It may be time to consider and/or review your superannuation nomination.

A superannuation nomination is a notice to your superfund trustee outlining who you want to receive your superannuation benefits after your death.  However, your superfund trustee is only bound by a nomination that is valid [in accordance with superannuation laws].

Many superannuation funds will not guide you through what constitutes a valid superannuation nomination, which makes it all the more difficult.

So, what constitutes a valid superannuation nomination? Your superfund trustee will look at the following hierarchy of people when considering how to distribute your super:

  1. Your spouse or ex-spouse;
  2. Your children [or other financial dependents]; and
  3. Your Estate.

Let’s break these categories down a bit further…

1. YOUR SPOUSE OR EX-SPOUSE

It may seem common sense that a superfund trustee would pay your super benefits to your partner automatically.  And this is true, particularly if you have made a nomination directing the payment to your spouse.  However, if, since making the nomination, you have separated or divorced from your spouse, the nomination is not revoked and, in fact, remains valid. Thus, your benefits may be paid to an ex!

2. YOUR CHILDREN

The intention of superannuation is to fund the retirement of you and your dependents.  Accordingly, a spouse and children who are considered to be financially dependent upon you will receive the most beneficial treatment under superannuation law.  Your children who are under 25 or have a disability will be considered dependents.

You must be careful with nominations to children as there can be pitfalls, including:

  1. You cannot nominate nieces or nephews [invalid];
  2. If the children are under 25 and you have a spouse or an ex-spouse who is alive, that person will be considered the guardians and your super will be paid to them [to hold upon trust for your children until they attain the age of 18];
  3. Children who are over 25 are determined as not being financially dependent upon you, and if the super benefit is paid to them then they will be heavily taxed upon receiving the death benefit.
  4. The taxation consequences can be different for children depending on their ages at the time of your death, which will create an uneven division in real [net] terms;
  5. As long as your children are over the age of 18 years, the superannuation fund will pay an entitlement directly to nominated children, meaning you cannot protect that benefit for your children until they attain an older age.

If you intend for your super benefits to benefit your children, and any of the above issues are in concern in your current circumstances, one solution may be to nominate your Estate as the beneficiary [provided you have an up-to-date Will].  Your Will then controls the distribution of the super death benefits to your chosen beneficiaries and much can be done to reduce or avoid the tax consequences described above!

3. YOUR ESTATE

As mentioned, nominating your Estate is a great way to cover most pitfalls of superfund nominations.  Tax can be avoided or reduced where you have children under and over the age of 25, you can implement asset protection strategies for your personal and superannuation assets for your children, and you can distribute your super death benefits to third parties [who aren’t your spouse or child] through your Will.

The potential consequences of this option are that this can create a further delay between your date of death and the distribution of the superannuation death benefits, and it also has the effect of increasing the value of your estate.  If your Will is challenged after your passing, the superannuation benefits will form part of the asset pool which can be claimed against.  Some food for thought regarding the significant asset that is your superannuation.

So, maybe it’s time to review your superannuation nomination – and for the greatest benefit, we suggest reviewing it concurrently with your Will and Powers of Attorney.

Contact our Legal Team for an appointment to review your Estate Planning to find out how we can help.

 

Katherine Taylor – Solicitor

BCriminology [History], LLB

New Labour Hire Laws In Victoria

ATTENTION ALL BUSINESSES.. does your business or organisation use labour hire workers?  If this applied to you, then you need to be aware of the new labour hire laws that are now in place, and how they may affect you and your business!

 

Under the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2018, labour hire providers will have until 29 October 2019 to apply for and be granted a licence by the Victoria Labour Hire Authority to operate in Victoria.

Licences can be applied for from the Labour Hire Authority website.  These licences are valid for a period of no more than three years.

There is a test that needs to be satisfied to obtain and maintain a licence.  This is known as “fit and proper test”.  Businesses will need to prove past compliance with the applicable employment, tax, immigration and workplace health and safety laws.

To ensure compliance of the new licensing system, the Victoria Labour Hire Authority will employ inspectors.  These inspectors will be able to enter and search premises, examine, seize or inspect anything suspected of relating to a possible contravention.

KEY POINTS FOR BUSINESS OWNERS:

  • LABOUR HIRE PROVIDERS MUST REGISTER ONLINE TO CREATE AN ACCOUNT + then apply for a licence.
  • LABOUR HIRE PROVIDERS WILL HAVE SIX MONTHS, or until 29 October 2019 to register online + apply for a licence.
  • IF PROVIDERS DO NOT APPLY FOR A LICENCE within the six-month transition period, they will be prohibited from providing labour hire services from 30 October 2019
  • UNLICENSED LABOUR HIRE PROVIDERS CAN FACE SUBSTANTIAL FINES, with a maximum penalty for a natural person being more than $120,000 + for a corporation exceeding $500,000.
  • HOSTS [BUSINESS WHO UTILISE LABOUR HIRE WITHIN THEIR BUSINESS] who enter into an arrangement after 29 October 2019 with a labour hire provider who has not applied for, or who has been refused a labour hire licence face substantial fines ranging from a maximum in excess of $120,00 for a natural person to in excess of $500,000 for a corporation.
  • THERE IS AN APPLICATION FEE, + ANNUAL LICENCE FEE, payable by the labour hire provider.

If your business uses labour hire workers in Victoria, we recommend you begin enquiringly with the providers as to their intentions with respect to applying for a licence.

Please contact Canny Legal on 5278 9500 if you have any queries regarding the new Labour Hire regime.

Spring Clean Your Life Planning

Spring has sprung, the days are getting longer and the sun is getting warmer – if you haven’t already, you are likely getting out in the garden, cleaning the house, and planning your summer projects around your home and garden.

In all the excitement of improving your physical environment, spare a thought for your life planning; that is, your future estate, asset and tax planning – it is a great time of year to give these a freshen up too!

Your Will is an easy place to start.  We recommend that a review of your existing Wills should be undertaken every 5 years, or earlier, if your current circumstances change.  If you don’t have a Will, NOW is the perfect time to get that process started.

Aside from regular reviews, there are certain milestones which are ideal point to consider and update your Will.  If any of the following have occurred in the last 12 months, or are likely to occur in the next 12 months, a review is necessary:

  • ENTERING A NEW RELATIONSHIP
  • MARRIAGE
  • CHILDREN
  • PURCHASING OR SELLING PROPERTY
  • CHILDREN BECOMING ADULTS
  • RETIREMENT
  • ESTABLISHING A BUSINESS
  • BUSINESS OR TRUST CHANGES
  • RELATIONSHIP BREAKDOWN, SUCH AS SEPARATION OR DIVORCE

If any of the above scenarios have recently changed in your life, it would be a good idea to grab copies of your signed Will, have a sit down and read over what you have in place.  If you see anything which requires change, or you are unsure about the impact of a life event, come see our legal team and we will assist you with the review.

Another issue worth noting is how marriage, separation and divorce can affect your Will if you fail to update it.  Each has a different consequence, and failing to consider and update your Will and Powers of Attorney at the time can result in the wrong people being in control of, and entitled to, your hard-earned assets.

The key to good long-term life planning is to be prepared, and obtain advice before committing to a significant life, asset or business change [where possible].  This isn’t limited to Wills, as changes can also impact Powers of Attorney, ownership of assets [ie. if owned jointly with others], business structures and agreements and superannuation entitlements.

Contact our Legal Team today to get your Life Planning spring clean underway.

 

Kayla Kennedy – Solicitor

LLB

Estate Planning

I’ve often thought that ‘life planning’ would be a much more appropriate label than ‘estate planning’; estate planning is [and should be] so much more than simply planning for your death.

Of course, planning for how your assets should be dealt with upon your death by preparing a Will is an important component of the plan, but it only one component of what should be much broader life planning – and that planning should begin as early as possible.

Estate planning extends well beyond Wills, to incorporate Powers of Attorney, Superannuation, business ownership, trust structures, tax planning and broader family arrangements, all of which may have no effect until you are unwell or pass away, but should all be part of your planning whilst you are fit and well and enjoying life.

Your estate planning should be front of mind during many of life’s big moments, including the following:

  • PURCHASING A PROPERTY // planning should include how the property is owned, whether that is in your sole name, joint names with another person, or in the name of a company or trust. Getting this right will determine who can receive an interest in the property should you pass away, and can also avoid unnecessary stamp duty, tax and legal expenses in transferring the property down the track;
  • GETTING MARRIED OR SEPARATING FROM YOUR SPOUSE PARTNER // the joy of getting married, or the difficulty of a relationship breakdown, both have an impact on your estate planning. Prior to the event, you should be reviewing any existing wills, powers of attorney, superannuation arrangements, business ownership structures and the ownership of your own assets;
  • HAVING CHILDREN, OR YOUR CHILDREN BECOMING YOUNG ADULTS // your children are the centre of your world, and should also be the centre of your estate plan, whether that is to provide for the care and provision of your minor children, or to benefit and protect your adult children for the challenges in their own lives;
  • STARTING A BUSINESS, OR PLANNING YOUR TRANSITION OUT OF A BUSINESS // both extremely exciting times, and both requiring significant planning to ensure smooth operation of the business and treatment of key people within it.

For bonus points, great estate/life planning will combine elements of legal advice and documents, financial advice and accounting advice, which is addressed in a cohesive, open and organised manner.

 

For further information regarding estate planning, please contact us to receive a FREE copy of our ‘7 Steps to Estate Planning Guide’, and look out for future dates for our ‘Estate of Mind’ seminar series at https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/estate-of-mind-tickets-66157682409

 

Stefan Manche – Senior Associate Solicitor

LLB, BComm

Congratulations Katherine + Kayla

Earlier this month Canny Legal gained two more solicitors, Katherine Taylor and Kayla Kennedy.  The ladies said goodbye to their positions as Law Clerks and proudly changed their titles to Solicitors.  Katherine and Kayla were both admitted into the Supreme Court as Legal Practitioners and their admissions were proudly moved by our Canny Legal’s Stefan Manche.

Stefan has been mentoring both Katherine and Kayla since he started with Canny Legal in October 2018 and admitted that “it was a very proud moment.”

We are so proud of how hard both Katherine and Kayla have worked they are both so excited to be welcomed into the world of being full-time solicitors!


 

What To Consider When Making Specific Gifts in Your Will

What to consider when making specific gifts in your Will

When preparing your Will there are a number of things to consider such as who to appoint as your Executor, the beneficiaries of your estate and whether you wish to leave any specific gifts to a particular family member or friend.

A ‘gift’ can be anything from a particular item of jewellery to a sum of money.  Below it will be discussed the matters that should be considered if you want to leave a gift under your Will.

Firstly, you cannot gift an item if you do not own them.  This situation can arise where a property is held under a Self-Managed Superannuation Fund or under a Trust.  Another situation to mention is when an item is owned jointly with another person.  In this case, the surviving owner will obtain the asset upon your passing.  Consequently, if you gift an item that you do not own, or is jointly owned, will be ineffective under your Will.

Secondly, it is important to update your Will to ensure that if the asset you have gifted still exists when you pass away.  We understand that life happens and that items and assets are sold or given away during your lifetime.  Therefore it is important to update your Will if you know that you no longer hold an asset.  However, if you have made a gift that is no longer in your possession, the direction in your Will would be ineffective and result in the recipient not receiving the gift.

Finally, if you wish to gift a particular asset or item under your Will, it is important to consider these items are properly described.  It is recommended to provide adequate detail when describing your asset to ensure your wishes are consistent as under your Will.

If you wish to discuss your Will, please do not hesitate to contact our friendly Canny Legal team.

 

Kayla Kennedy

Law Clerk