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Your Legal To-Do List For 2021


Considering and organising your personal legal affairs is something that is often overlooked until it is too late, leaving you and your loved ones unprepared for unfortunate circumstances. To help you prepare for the uncertainty of the future which we all face, we have prepared a legal to-do list that you can complete to ensure you and your family are protected.

Create or Update Your Will

Having a valid legal Will ensures that you have taken care of your loved ones after your death. A Will outlines how you want your wealth and assets distributed after your death and ensures that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes – minimising the time, stress and potential costs that your loved ones may otherwise experience and incur.

A Will is the foundation of preparing for the future to protect yourself and your family. If you want to learn more about what a Will can include and how it can benefit you then you can read this article that goes into more detail on the subject.

Establish a Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint somebody to make personal and financial decisions on your behalf if you lose the capacity to do so. Additionally, a medical Power of Attorney (now known as the Appointment of a Medical Treatment Decision Maker) allows the person you appoint to make decisions regarding your medical treatments if you become incapacitated and unable to make your own decisions. It may be hard to imagine a time when you aren’t able to make these decisions for yourself, but planning for this possibility is a crucial step towards protecting yourself in the future.

There are different types of Powers of Attorney which can be tailored to your wishes making them an important inclusion on this checklist of things you should do to prepare for the future.

Estate Planning

Building on what is set out in your Will, further estate planning helps protect your loved ones by passing the ownership of your assets to your chosen beneficiaries in a way that limits time delays, disputes, taxation and stress. There are many things that can be included in your estate plan that aren’t covered in a standard Will or Power of Attorney that will give you further control over the distribution of your assets. As part of a comprehensive estate plan we recommend considering the following:

Testamentary Trusts

Including testamentary trusts in your Will gives you greater control over the distribution of your assets. These are particularly useful in situations where the beneficiary will likely not be able to responsibly manage their inheritance. You can establish multiple trusts in a single Will, allowing you to allocate your capital between different beneficiaries at your nominated trustees discretion.

Superannuation Distribution

If not specified, your superannuation may be paid out differently than you would have wanted and will be taxed. If you want your superannuation to be paid directly to a chosen beneficiary after your death you may have to specify this and submit the required documents to ensure that they can receive the payment. You can otherwise nominate that your superannuation entitlement forms part of your estate to be distributed in accordance with the terms of your Will which would also avoid any applicable tax payable.

Life Insurance / TPD / Income Protection insurance policies

There is a huge range of life insurance, TPD (total and permanent disability) and income protection insurance policies which can act as a financial safety net for your family in case of the unexpected occurring. Ensuring that you maintain a adequate insurance policies for you and your family will protect your wealth for future generations to come.

Pre-Contract Advice For Property

If you are considering buying or selling a house, meeting with lawyers who are experienced in reviewing contracts of sale and the conveyancing process is crucial to avoid hidden or confusing contract clauses and costly mistakes that can result from hastily purchasing a property without considering the terms of the contract.

Seeking pre-contract advice from your lawyers ensures that you will fully understand the terms of the contract and that it matches what you expect before committing yourself to purchase the property. Legal advice will help inform decisions regarding any matters you may want investigated further, your responsibilities or any special conditions that could be added to protect your best interests.

The language used in contracts of sale is voluminous and can be confusing and/or ambiguous for people without expert knowledge. Buying or selling a property is an important decision that will have a huge financial impact on your life, so it is critical to know that you are making well-informed decisions that are going to benefit you.

Take Control Of Your Future

2020 proved how unpredictable life can be. It is with this unpredictability in mind that we recommend taking some time to prepare for your future to protect not only yourself, but your loved ones.

Having a comprehensive and well thought-out Estate Plan, including an updated Will and Enduring Power of Attorney, will give you peace of mind knowing that you and your family will be taken care of. Meanwhile, protecting your best interests by obtaining independent legal advice before buying or selling your property will help secure your future.

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We provide preliminary legal advice to enable you to move forward with confidence.

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Our Insights + Case Studies provide information and advice that is general in nature and readers should seek tailored professional legal and financial advice before making any decisions.