The death of a loved one is traumatic and a time during which mourners should not have to fight the courts as well as family members to settle and wind up a deceased estate. Unfortunately, obtaining probate and finalising Estate matters can be costly and it can take years to wind up the Estate. The main thing you want to avoid, or mitigate as much as possible, is the possibility for court action and/or Solicitor intervention.
Here are five ways to assist in ensuring a smooth process to obtain probate and settle Estate matters:
1. The Will
Having a Will prepared will help streamline the probate process as well as settlement of Estate debts and distribution of Estate assets to loved ones. If the Will is comprehensive and professionally-prepared, then the process will be shorter and less costly. This also means your loved ones will not need to go through the feuds so many family members of a deceased relative/spouse encounter.
2. Detail of Assets
Although a Will is the best step you can take in managing the estate efficiently and without hiccups, a detailed description of assets should be issued with the name of the beneficiary in the event of your death.
3. A Family Trust
A Family Trust established to hold certain assets when they are purchased may assist in minimising what is required to be administered upon your death. This is because the Family Trust does not cease on the death of the relevant party. The deceased’s Will should also determine who is to stand in the place of the Deceased in having ultimate control over the Family Trust (i.e. the Appointer). If there is a Corporate Trustee, then on death only the Directors, Shareholders and/or Secretary will need to be considered.
4. Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is one of the most suitable options as it will help in many ways, even before the person is deceased. A Power of Attorney gives authority to a person to act on behalf of the deceased, but also to act on behalf of a person who has become mentally and/or physically incapable of managing his or her assets. When it comes to medical concerns, the person with the Power of Attorney can help smoothen the process when it comes to making critical decisions, paying hospital bills or settling other accounts and/or having appropriate discussions on your behalf.
Three different Powers of Attorney should be considered: Financial, Medical and Enduring Power of Attorneys. A Power of Attorney can be limited by time applicable, the actual decisions to be made on your behalf and when it is activated.
5. Beneficiaries of Financial Assets
Having the appropriate documents in place with your Superannuation Provider or Self-Managed Superannuation Fund makes the settlement of your Estate less cumbersome. However, there are also the other day-to-day assets that need to be managed in the event of death. Such things include a savings or cheque account. It should also be made clear who will have claim to these monies and treasured possessions.
Stones Sharp Certified Practising Accountants understands all the frustrations, pain and time needed to manage the financial processes of losing a loved one. By managing and considering the estate now, it will eliminate unnecessary battles during which time your main focus should be on the loss and memory of your loved one. Contact Stones Sharp for more information and advice.
FCPA & CA
Shane is a Fellow of the Australian Society of Certified Practicing Accountants and a Chartered Accountant.
Shane’s passion is to consider the clients, the client’s business and taxation affairs with a holistic approach whilst providing business mentoring, business strategies, systems development, taxation advice and taxation planning in order to assist his clients and their business achieve their goals.