Estate Planning Lawyers in Tasmania

Without a proper estate plan in place, your assets may be distributed according to intestacy laws, which may not align with your wishes. This can lead to lengthy legal battles, unnecessary taxes, and financial hardship for your loved ones. By taking proactive steps to create an estate plan in Tasmania, you can avoid these pitfalls and ensure that your legacy is protected.

At Finlay Watchorn, our estate planning lawyers specialise in estate planning. Whether you're a young professional just starting your journey or a retiree looking to safeguard your legacy, estate planning is essential for securing your assets and ensuring your loved ones are provided for according to your wishes. Call on 03 6229 5655 to talk with us about your estate and your plans, and we will help you put them together.

Understanding Estate Planning in Tasmania

Estate planning is the proactive process of arranging your affairs to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes upon your passing. It involves more than just drafting a will; it encompasses a comprehensive strategy to manage your wealth, protect your family, and minimise tax liabilities.

Possible Components of an Estate Plan in Australia

Some key components of your estate plan may include one or more of the below documents.

  • Wills: Drafting and reviewing wills to ensure they accurately reflect the individual's wishes regarding the distribution of their assets upon their death.

  • Trusts: Establishing trusts to hold assets for the benefit of specific beneficiaries, providing asset protection, tax benefits, and control over how assets are distributed.

  • Power of Attorney: Assisting clients in appointing someone to make financial or legal decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated.

  • Advance Health Directives: Helping clients document their wishes regarding medical treatment and end-of-life care in case they are unable to communicate them themselves.

  • Superannuation Binding Death Benefit Nominations: Advising clients on how to designate beneficiaries for their superannuation benefits to ensure they are distributed according to their wishes.

  • Estate Administration: Assisting executors with the legal process of administering an estate, including obtaining probate, collecting assets, paying debts, and distributing assets to beneficiaries.

  • Estate Disputes: Resolving disputes that arise between beneficiaries, executors, or other parties involved in the administration of an estate, including contesting wills or defending against challenges to the validity of a will.

  • Tax Planning: Providing advice on tax minimisation strategies, including strategies to minimise capital gains tax, estate tax, and other taxes that may apply to the transfer of assets.

  • Estate Planning Reviews: Conducting periodic reviews of estate plans to ensure they remain up-to-date and aligned with the client's current circumstances and objectives.

  • Guardianship and Capacity Matters: Assisting clients in appointing guardians for minor children or adults with disabilities and navigating legal issues related to capacity and decision-making.

What makes up your estate plan will be determined by what assets (and debts) you have and what your intentions are for those assets.

Who Needs an Estate Plan?

Contrary to popular belief, estate planning is not just for the wealthy or the elderly. Australians of all ages and backgrounds can benefit from having an estate plan in place. Whether you have significant assets or modest savings, estate planning ensures that your wishes are honoured and your loved ones are protected.

Consequences of Failing to Create an Estate Plan in Tasmania

Failing to create an estate plan in Australia can have significant consequences, both for the individual and their loved ones. Here are some examples of potential consequences.

Intestacy Laws

If a person dies without a valid will in place, their estate will be distributed according to intestacy laws. In Australia, each state and territory has its own intestacy laws, which may not align with the deceased's wishes. For example:

  • In some cases, assets may be distributed to relatives the deceased may not have wanted to benefit.

  • Intestacy laws may not account for modern family structures, such as de facto relationships or stepchildren, potentially leaving loved ones without inheritance rights.

Family Disputes

The lack of a clear estate plan can lead to disputes among family members regarding the distribution of assets. Without clear instructions, disagreements may arise, causing emotional strain and potentially leading to costly legal battles.

Financial Hardship

Without an estate plan, there may be delays in accessing assets and funds needed to cover immediate expenses, such as funeral costs or outstanding bills. This can cause financial hardship for surviving family members during an already difficult time.

Unintended Tax Consequences

The absence of tax planning in an estate plan can result in unnecessary tax liabilities for beneficiaries. For example:

  • Inefficient distribution of assets may lead to higher capital gains tax or estate tax liabilities.

  • Failure to utilise available tax exemptions and deductions may result in higher tax bills for the estate and beneficiaries.

Loss of Control

Without an estate plan, the distribution of assets and the appointment of guardians for minor children may be left to the discretion of the court. This means that decisions regarding the deceased's estate and dependents may be made by individuals who are unfamiliar with their wishes or circumstances.

Inadequate Provision for Dependents

Without proper estate planning, there may be insufficient provisions made for dependents, such as minor children or individuals with disabilities. This can leave vulnerable family members without adequate financial support or care arrangements.

Business Disruption

For business owners, the lack of an estate plan can lead to uncertainty and disruption in the management and ownership of the business upon their death. Without clear instructions, there may be disputes among co-owners or difficulties in transferring ownership to heirs.

Failing to create an estate plan can result in a range of negative consequences, including legal complications, financial losses, family disputes, and emotional strain. Individuals must engage in comprehensive estate planning to protect their assets, provide for their loved ones, and ensure their wishes are carried out after they die.

Estate Planning Services in Tasmania

At Finlay Watchorn, we provide a range of legal services aimed at helping individuals and families protect their assets, plan for the future, and ensure their wishes are carried out after they pass away. Key services we provide are listed here, but we provide much more to help ensure our clients' needs are met.

  • Wills Drafting: Assisting clients in drafting comprehensive and legally binding wills that reflect their wishes regarding the distribution of their assets, the appointment of executors, and guardianship arrangements for minor children.

  • Estate Planning: Developing tailored estate plans to help clients minimise tax liabilities, protect assets, and ensure the efficient transfer of wealth to future generations. This may involve strategies such as establishing trusts, making gifts, and structuring ownership of assets.

  • Trust Establishment and Administration: Advising clients on the establishment and administration of various types of trusts, including testamentary trusts, discretionary trusts, and charitable trusts. This may involve drafting trust deeds, advising trustees on their duties and powers, and assisting with trust management.

  • Advance Care Directives: Assisting clients in preparing advance care directives or living wills to outline their preferences regarding medical treatment and end-of-life care decisions in the event they become incapacitated.

  • Powers of Attorney: Drafting powers of attorney documents to appoint trusted individuals to make financial, legal, and personal decisions on behalf of clients in the event of their incapacity.

  • Estate Administration: Guiding executors and administrators through the probate process and the administration of estates, including asset valuation, debt settlement, distribution to beneficiaries, and addressing any disputes that may arise.

  • Estate Litigation: Representing clients in estate-related disputes, including will contests, family provision claims, executor disputes, and challenges to the validity of testamentary documents.

  • Estate Tax Planning: Advising clients on strategies to minimise estate taxes, including utilising tax-effective structures such as testamentary trusts, charitable giving, and other tax planning techniques.

  • Business Succession Planning: Assisting business owners in developing succession plans to ensure the orderly transfer of business interests to future generations or third-party buyers while minimising tax implications and preserving business continuity.

  • Estate Review and Updating: Conducting regular reviews of clients' estate plans to ensure they remain current and reflective of their evolving circumstances, such as changes in family dynamics, financial status, or legislative developments.

These are just some of the legal services that we perform. Each client's situation is unique, so our estate planning lawyers will work closely with you to develop customised solutions that meet your specific needs and objectives.

Why Hire Finlay Watchorn for Your Estate Plan

Choosing the right estate planning lawyer is important because there are many different components of an estate plan – some of which work best in certain situations and others that do not. With Finlay Watchorn, you can trust that your affairs are in capable hands. We deliver personalised solutions that prioritise your best interests.

Our current clients choose us, too, because we provide more than a service: we build relationships. We help you make sure your estate plan reflects your ongoing needs and goals throughout your life. Estate plans should change as you reach certain milestones, like having a second child, purchasing a second home, or starting a new business. We understand that the plan you create today may not be the same tomorrow, and so we are here to advise you when updates are needed.

Contact our Estate Planning Lawyers in Tasmania Today

At Finlay Watchorn, we know how important it is for people to protect what they have worked hard to earn. We also know that, even when we die, we want to make sure our loved ones are financially secure. Estate planning is the means to do these ends, and our estate planning lawyers in Tasmania are competent and ready to assist you.

Just like people and their financial situations and goals, estate plans come in all different shapes and sizes. Call on 03 6229 5655 today to schedule a consultation and to get started on your plan – one that will allow you to protect your assets and your loved ones.

Finlay & Watchorn

On 8 July 1880, the law firm of Finlay & Watchorn was founded by William Alexander Finlay and Arthur Denison Watchorn in a modest 2-storey Victorian Building at 32 Murray Street, Hobart. In the early 1980s the firm opened an office at Kingston in the rapidly expanding municipality of Kingborough and since 2010 the firm has been wholly based in Kingston.

Online or In Person

Our office is in Kingston, but you do not need to come to Kingston to instruct us. We regularly meet with clients online by Zoom or Microsoft Teams and can arrange home or hospital visits where necessary. If you do wish to visit, we have free client parking immediately behind our premises.