Top 5 tips that a lawyer wishes clients knew
Brooke is the founder of the law firm Wills & Estates, a national firm serving Australian adults in Wills & Estates. She's a total legend and she has been a huge help in getting my life (‘after life’) plan sorted.
We asked her for her top five tips...
Tip #1: get yourself a Will, today!
You’re celebrating birthdays, you’re busy building a business, you’re doing the chores, you’re juggling the budget, you’re living life! Like most Australians, doing your Will has been at the bottom of your never ending ‘to do’ list for years (alongside lodging your tax returns). And generally until we have a serious reason to do one, we never make that initial move to get advice about the best estate planning solution. My first tip would be to make your Will a priority today - take the first step of reaching out for a no-obligation appointment. That first step is often the hardest.
Tip #2: you are more special than you think
Everyone Thinks They Have a “Simple Will” - Maybe You Do, But It’s More Likely You Don’t
When a simple Will isn’t for you:
You want to divide your estate unequally between your spouse and/or children and step-children;
You have a business involving a trust or a company;
You have a beneficiary for whom you are concerned as to their ability to handle their inheritance;
You have a secret lover or any other special quirk that needs consideration;
You would like to take advantage of the tax benefits offered by testamentary trusts.
A simple will may be right for you if:
You don’t think you will need to protect your legacy from bankruptcy, from divorces and relationship breakdowns;
You have no immature beneficiaries or beneficiaries who cannot look after their money;
There are no tax advantages for your beneficiaries.
Your will is your document of a lifetime and though money might be saved by creating a will yourself, it could cost your loved ones a lot more in the long run. These tick-and-flick formulas cannot adequately handle the nuanced consideration of each person's unique situation, complex financial affairs or situations like self-managed super funds or blended families. A testamentary trust Will is the best solution for most of my clients.
Tip #3: record everything
Gather your Identity Documents and Asset/Liability List - Account Numbers/Names/Title Details (Volume/Folio).
If you keep a list of these things it is much easier for your next of kin or executor to wrap up your affairs. When we meet with you we take a list of these details, however, there are online solution providers such as NowSorted who can help you keep track of all your important documentation.
Tip #4: have a safe place that can be found!
Keep It Somewhere Safe - Tell People Where it Is.
If they don’t know it won’t be of any help! Currently the law still requires a Will and Power of Attorney Documents to be signed with “wet ink” - yup a real live pen, eEven though we do almost everything else with some type of digital signature. So until the law catches up, you will have a paper Will. I would recommend keeping the Will in a small safe at your house. Safes from Bunnings are affordably priced now - we don’t need the James Bond safe behind the picture type or maybe you already have one - if so that’s the best place to keep your Will. It will keep it secure from fire, flood and theft. Other options are keeping your Will with a bank or at the law firm for example, but they may charge a fee and it can also be difficult for you to access your documents at a moment's notice.
Tip #5: have ‘Action’ conversations
If you’ve received Lauren’s email/media forward it to your friends. We all know we should have a Will or an up-to-date Will. And most people know someone who has heard of or lived a horror story when someone’s estate went wrong. Yet the statistics still confirm that we don’t take action on completing our estate plans. So go ahead, start an ‘Action’ orientated conversation with your loved ones.
An action orientated conversation would be a conversation where you both DO something as a result of the conversation. An example of an Action would be to call us/email us/chat on our website/download our mobile app from our mobile site to make your first no-obligation appointment.
Managing the budget can be tough, particularly in these times, but we don’t want that to stop you from getting your Will done and we have flexible payment terms.
Let us know what other barriers are there that are preventing you from taking action? We would love to know so we can demolish them!
Reference: 'Top 5 tips that a lawyer wishes clients knew', The Real Thiel, 17th of June 2020